I’ve spent much of this week working on Christmas presents. Partly working on my own projects, but mostly helping the kids with their gifts for each other. And, I confess, I’ve encountered many frustrating moments.
There are a couple of reasons we make many of our Christmas gifts.
It forces us to be intentional. We have to start early and really think about what we’re going to do for the people we’re giving gifts to. This means that even if we do end up buying something for someone instead of making it, we’ve put thought into it. We don’t just run and grab a gift for the sake of giving it. We put consideration and love into every gift.
It forces us to truly think about the person we’re giving a gift to. Actually, the goal is to pray for the person as we make the gift. It’s amazing how much prayer can go into a project as I cut, paint, glue, sew, or digitally maneuver.
But, just because I have good intentions with all of this Christmas creating does not automatically mean the process runs smoothly. And, I must confess that this week has not been the smoothest week for our creative processes. Patterns that I created and thought would work great hit one snag after another. Material hasn’t cooperated like I thought it should. The sewing machine has been ornery. The printer has not worked properly. One thing after another.
It all really came to a head on Wednesday. Everything that could go wrong seemed to be going wrong. I wasn’t working with the kids that day – just on my own projects. And I was getting exceedingly frustrated. As one problem after another presented itself, I finally cried out in frustration, “Okay, God, if You’re trying to get my attention about something, I’m listening!”
Where’s the prayer?
The thought popped into my mind immediately and without warning. Along with it came the realization that I had not been praying at all for the people I was creating gifts for. I was not praying for my family as I made our cute Thanksgiving turkey napkins. I was not teaching Olivia, Angela, and Steven to pray for one another as they sewed and created. Angela and Steven still have a good bit of work to do on all of their gifts, but Olivia is almost done with Angela’s gift and we haven’t once talked about praying for her as we sew.
I immediately confessed. I had been focused on the gifts, not the recipients. What good is the gift if the recipient is forgotten in the busyness? What good does our creative plan do if we don’t stop and remember the two reasons for approaching giving this way? If we’re not intentional and prayerful?
Wednesday afternoon my frustrations revolved around both my printer and my sewing machine not working. The sewing machine started working again, but I couldn’t seem to get anything accomplished on it because I was fighting with the printer. As I cried out to the Lord and He revealed my sinful focus, I surrendered both machines to Him and started praying for the sisters whose projects were in my hands. By this point, I didn’t have much time left before needing to get ready for church, but I was still able to have wonderful time of prayer over each lady. And wouldn’t you know, my sewing machine didn’t seize up again and my printer miraculously decided to start printing perfectly!
I won’t be back to creating with the kids until Monday, but I know what our priority must be as we sit down to work together next week. We must have an attitude of prayer. I must teach them to pray for one another as they work, and I must pray as I progress through my own projects.
Your approach to gift-giving this year might be a very different one from ours. You might delight in dashing into chaotic stores and finding last-minute gifts. In fact, you might even now be sitting down to catch your breath after your midnight or crack-of-dawn trip to the Black Friday sales. But, whatever your approach to gift-giving this year, I encourage you do remember this. Giving a gift means nothing if we’re caught up more in the gift or in the process of securing that gift than we are in intentionally considering each recipient. Will you join me in prayer for each person you are giving a gift to this year? Will you lift up a prayer as you contemplate what to give? Then maybe pray another one while you’re buying or creating it. Don’t forget the wrapping time! Oh, and every time you catch a glimpse of the gift under the tree or in a stack awaiting delivery, say another prayer. In so doing, we will give so much more than a temporal gift, no matter how awesome that gift may be. We will be giving a gift of eternal significance: a heart of prayer.