At this time, checkout lines in many stores are longer than usual — filled with parents shopping for kids, spouses and friends shopping for each other. Stores are sending out last minute emails so online shoppers can order gifts that would come in time for Christmas. Millions of secret Santa gifts, year-end bonuses are being passed around, and the gift bag and wrapper business is booming.
It’s no surprise that there’s so much giving at Christmas. The wise men brought gifts — gold, frankincense and myrrh when they came to see Jesus in the manger, and though the Bible did not attach any symbolic meaning to the gifts, it was clear that the gifts were accompanied by worship and they meant something to Mary and Joseph.
The birth of Jesus was the manifestation of God’s gift to humanity. A gift that had a purpose – to broker a pathway back to God. When anyone receives Jesus, they receive the gift of Life and light and peace and joy that sustains them through life’s journey.
As Jesus is God’s gift to man, so you are to your generation. This season, disabuse your mind of self-doubt. Let today’s card remind you that:
You are a gift. You have a purpose.
You have a gift. That gift has a purpose.
In addition to the greatest gift, Jesus, that unique ability that you have (or that you despise as inconsequential) is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your worship and your gift to your generation.
What are you going to do with the gift that you are?
“Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11
Growing up, I always loved to draw, paint and make crafts, but I did those as a hobby. The journey towards being paid for doing what I love started in 2005. It was during my pre-senior secondary school break that I first used a computer for design during a month-long stint at a graphic design company. Since then, I have logged in hours of personal/online training, as well as individual and collaborative professional work in the more than 11 years that have followed.
Why am I saying this in the middle of August? It’s not as if this day or month marks any special anniversary (though this month, I registered studio13:52 at the DBA as well as opened shop on Upwork).
Well, you will figure out the answer on your own.
It’s said that you need at least 10,000 hours of practicing a craft to become an expert of some significance. That’s about ten years (if you practice three hours daily). Though I am a professional graphic designer with 11 plus years behind, I perceive myself to be only starting.
As I take contracts in my local county, from my home country or across continents on Upwork, I realize that many years behind me does not nullify the need to continue to learn with the right tools and make the right connections in the ever-evolving creative world. The next challenge after establishing basics is to keep evolving to stay on top of my game.
While Studio 13:52 moves into an uncharted territory (you will hear soon), with the horizon promising endless possibilities, one thing is certain – I am committed to delivering inspired imaginations (That’s some marketing there!).
Am I good? Maybe a little bit.
Do I know all there is to design? Absolutely not!
So to practice and evolve, I must – today, tomorrow and the day after.
Even so, it’s not ten thousand hours of energy in all directions. It’s focused, repetitive, coordinated practice in the direction of a meaningful passion. With an assurance of God’s blessing on my endeavor (key point!), time and concerted effort is needed.
Interestingly, this pretty much applies to my faith, writing, relationships, career, vocation, ministry, family life and every other thing in-between.
I planned re-posting the Boxing Day article I wrote years ago, but something happened yesterday I must mention to you.
I had always read about the nice tradition of parents wrapping gifts in stockings and under the Christmas tree so that their kids would open them on Christmas morning and behold what items on their wish list were granted.
I had read it in books – especially in the book I’m reading presently [ Sarah Palin’s Good Tidings and Great Joy]- that she used to make her own family gifting experience extra edgy by hiding the gifts and putting clues for the children starting from the stockings…
But I saw it with my own eyes this Christmas when I visited my cousins.
I woke up 2 am yesterday morning to come drink some water in the kitchen. The lights were off downstairs but the beam from the bedroom cast light across a corner of the living room, where the 5-foot tall Christmas tree stood near the wall mounted TV.
I spotted some colourful gift bags under the Christmas tree – which weren’t there the night before.
I was excited and happy for my cousins, as I had seen one of their wish lists the day before.
While I quietly took water and tip toed back into bed, I wondered the excitement and anticipation that will well up from my cousins when they pry open the gifts boxes to unveil what’s in there.
They didn’t get to open the gift boxes until after church.
But, one could almost palpate the gratitude in their eyes as they unveiled their gifts. I couldn’t get a camera there to capture the expressions on their faces, I would have posted it.
That’s not the whole story…
My aunt told me my bag as there too… and I experienced my own secret wish list granted – a new phone!
Gifting in Christmas is a culture that probably takes cue from the wise men’s gifts to Jesus. Or let me say from God who gave us Jesus Christ as a gift of Love. John 3:16
Individuals and families share gifts with people of Christmas day and other days following. But in English-speaking countries, the day following Christmas Day is called ‘Boxing Day’. This word comes from the custom which started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would open their ‘alms boxe’ (boxes in which people had placed gifts of money) and distribute the contents to poor people in the neighbourhood on the day after Christmas. The tradition continues tody, though receding in popularity.
Do you know that more than the physical wish lists we write, there is a wish list in the heart of every man – that unspoken expectation of healing, that request for freedom for sin, the deep thirst for fulfilment, the yearning and longing for meaning to life and the search for true peace.
When the world pried open the gift of Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes, the Bible recorded there was joy, peace and goodwill to men. These can be a personal experience of any man who will invite Christ into his or her life.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.
John 3:16 [the message]
Stop to consider: have you received the gift?
Boxing Day reminds us of the importance of giving. It tells us to box good things and give.
Let me box you a gift: that’s what it means.
Romans 8:32 – He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
The first giver was God. He still is. He gave Christ and all other things we need every day – freely and abundantly. He gives us our breath, the beautiful sun, flowers; the intelligence man boasts of, beauty we go crazy about, the opportunity to know Him personally and the Spirit that empowers us to do exploit. He gives us talents too!
While the devil gives us small costly things, Jesus freely gives big things.
This should remind us to share the greatest gift, Christ Jesus, with others as we have received, through our words, deeds and life.
Matthew 10:8- Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
But you know, God freely gives us so we can freely give too. His grace is not to be hoarded but to be distributed to profit everybody – to draw people to the Kingdom and to strengthen those in it already. Doing less is falling short of His expectations.
Mat 5:14-16 – Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Everywhere we go, we should remember that we can give too. The world is dark. Evil prevails and permeates everywhere. But Christ came to give light. He has released it to those who believe and he expects us to give light to others. We are lights of the world – we should give our lights to illuminate dark places.
1 Corinthians 2:12 – Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
So now, many people do not know they have been given all they need to live a godly and abundant life. They suffer in the midst of plenty. Once you connect to Christ by believing on Him and accepting Him, eternal life and a lifetime of blessing was credited to your account. It is your duty to get to the depth of knowledge and mine the riches.
Then give freely!
If you have received Christ, why not share with someone today? A word, a prayer, a meal, a smile or deed borne with the spirit of Christ can touch someone’s heart forever.
God’s blessings as you give,
P.S.: As I unwrapped the phone from its package, I remembered telling a friend I needed a phone few months ago. She asked me to be specific before God. There, I asked for a phone. And I got it.
I challenge you, what is in your wish list?
God’s word says “Ask and it shall be given you…”
And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 1 John 5:14