Most Treasured Gifts

How is it the gifts we most treasure often arrive during the Christmas season? It may not be that way for everyone, but when I think of the four gifts I treasure most in life, three of the four came at or near Christmas. It wasn’t a bicycle with a banana seat; although I always wanted one of those. Nor was it a famed Red Rider® BB gun. The gifts I treasure most have outlasted any of those material things. Here’s my most treasured gifts.

The first gift was given to all of us. It was our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, who was born of a virgin to redeem us from the curse of sin. As a Christian, I recognize that without His payment for my sin, I could never be reconciled to God and adopted into His family as an heir. Without His perfect, sinless life, I wouldn’t have an example of the life I should try to emulate. While I can never attain the deity of Christ, I can take on His character and allow Him to live through my surrendered life. I thank you Lord for giving each of us the opportunity for eternal life through Your Son.

The second gift, like the first, is one that keeps on giving year after year. That gift is my wife Diane. She is the funny, beautiful, independent, tough-minded angel who God has blessed me with for the past 24 years. Meeting in late February, we married just after Christmas on New Year’s Eve. Let’s begin the year right was our motto; and we did. I never thought, for very long anyway, about how an anniversary on New Year’s Eve ensured I would never forget.

It was months before I showed it to her, but I knew she was God’s gift to me. In fact, I wrote a poem commemorating that fact about six weeks after we first met. God, after helping me fight through the valley of despair and find my way back to Him, was once again blessing my life. I didn’t know it when we met, but it wasn’t long before I knew this was the help mate I had always dreamed of and prayed for. This year, we’ll be celebrating 23 years together; and each subsequent year brings sweeter and sweeter blessings. I thank you Lord for Your wonderful gift of companionship and love in my life.

My third gift is one of the most special treasures anyone could ever receive. As some know, I had a less than easy childhood. As an unwanted child resulting from an illicit affair, confusion, abuse, and sadness filled my young life. I didn’t understand who God was, yet I knew enough to believe He was a mighty being who I could pray to when sad, alone, and hurting. Somehow, I knew He loved and cared for me. Sometimes my prayers were angry, hate-fueled requests for God to take away the hurt; but most were simple pleas for love and to feel like I belonged.

At 14 years old, God moved a Christian family all the way from Massachusetts to central Florida to give me the gift of family. It was complete with a mom and dad, brothers to learn from and play with; and a little big sister to teach me grace and goodness. God answered the prayers of a young child long after the dream of a real family had died; showing him what God’s faithfulness looks like. In that environment, a wayward young teen learned what it meant to be part of a loving family, and how God’s love can overcome even the most difficult past.

I don’t share their last name, as I was never officially adopted by the state’s court system. Although offered by my new family, I knew with just a few years before adulthood; it made no sense. I didn’t need their name; I had their love. God approved my adoption into this family in the courts of heaven, and nothing on this earth can compare to His authority.

As Satan tries to do, there were times I wrestled with painful memories of my past. Another struggle was sometimes feeling left out at family gatherings. When longtime family friends came to visit or siblings traveled home for holiday gatherings, the myriad of stories that pre-dated my arrival often left me feeling separated and alone. It was never the case in reality, but those nagging feelings of self-pity and exclusion were real. Was it my silence during those times? Perhaps the way I distanced myself from them? I will never understand how they knew, but mom and dad sensed my emotions; and on the Christmas of my 18th year on this earth, they remedied the problem forever.

Even though I had reached legal age that summer, and already in the Army, my adopted mom and dad gave me one of the most cherished gifts I’ve ever received. With the usual sweaters, shirts, socks, and underwear (why do mamas always give underwear) exchanged, everyone gathered around with big smiles as Dad made an announcement. There was one more gift under the tree. He walked over and pulled a manila envelope from behind the tree and handed it to me. Thinking it might be a check, I excitedly opened the envelope.

Instead of finding a check, I pulled out a certificate. When I read it, I understood just how much this family loved me. It was an adoption certificate signed by my mom, dad, and the two brothers I had lived, grown up, and worked beside at the family’s service station. The family wanted me to know that although I didn’t share their last name, I was , and would always be, a part of their family. After lots of tears and embraces, mom and dad explained how they understood our family would be apart more than together in the coming years. They spoke with the other children and the entire family agreed that they wanted to make my adoption “official.”

I’ll always picture in my mind, God smiling down in that moment; looking at the bruised and battered little boy hiding in the woods who was asking Him to send a family to love him. I thank you Lord for the wonderful gift of a loving family to share my life with.

The fourth gift? It’s the most precious of all; and deserving of its permanent number one status. Arriving on a breezy September evening at a small Baptist church in my hometown, that gift was God’s salvation. When God gave me the faith needed, through His grace, to trust in His Son, repent of my sins, and surrender my life to Him, my life began. Through God’s mercy, He granted me the gift of loss for my non-belief and He began the long process of sanctification, which transforms my heart and mind. Kinship to Christ, heir to God’s riches, and eternal life to worship and praise my Father God; the gift of salvation is the most treasured gift in my life.

What are some of the most treasured gifts you’ve ever received? Click To Tweet

We each have wonderful memories of Christmases past, and dreams of future ones with our growing families. I’ve found in my life that the common link to all my most treasured gifts is that they all came from God.

God’s blessings,

I want to give a special thanks to the Kauffman family at Lighthouse Bible Studies, publisher of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, for allowing me to share this article with you. It was recently published in their December 2020 edition, and they were most gracious to allow me to share it with all y’all. If you don’t already subscribe to Refresh, I would encourage you to do so here (Click to Subscribe). Each edition is filled with insightful, inspiring articles and studies that deepen our understanding of God.

 

Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

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42 thoughts on “Most Treasured Gifts

  1. What a tender and moving story you have shared here with us today, J. D.! Yes, God has given you some marvelous gifts to treasure always, and your gratefulness for them all is made so clear by your heartfelt words.
    Blessings always, and Merry Christmas!

  2. Jim, as your other dad I too have adapted you into my heart. From the first time we met, I knew you were special and proudly watched you develop into a fine upstanding man. I’m glad you left the past behind and I’ll look forward with God’s grace we will spend eternity together. I love you

    1. I love you too Dad; and always will sir. You are among the best blessings in my life. Thank you for 24 years, and counting, of wisdom, godly counsel, and sage advice. Thank you also for making room in your life for me. Such a blessing!

    1. Amen! It’s wonderful to be able to look back upon our lives and see all the touchpoints where God has blessed us isn’t it ma’am? Especially when we recognize that some of those times were in the midst of despair, pain, and grief. He is always Immanuel.

  3. This was an excellent blog for for this week! I don’t know what it is like as a child without a family. Such a great testimony of even at a very young age, God heard and answered your prayers for a loving family. From your writings and stories, He gave you that most abundantly. If you ever consider a fifth to the list, might I suggest that godly friends be added. Thanks for sharing this! ~Ben C.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Mr. Ben. Godly friends, some for “reasons, seasons, and life”, are most definitely high up on my list of treasured blessings and gifts. Know that you are among that list sir.

    1. Amen Ms. Joyce. May be all be filled to overflowing with God’s love for one another. What a very different world that would be ma’am. God’s blessings and Merry CHRISTmas. Am saddened you’re only spending it with the household; we’re doing the same.

    1. Those of joy are the only ones that matter my friend. I sometimes remember Psalm 56:8, and I imagine how Christ will pour them out over me like a cleansing rain when I am taken up to join Him in heaven one day. Merry CHRISTmas my beautiful, caring, sweet little sister in Christ.

  4. Absoluly inspiring, beautiful and amazing! All good and perfect gifts come from our Lord and Savior! They come in many forms to meet our needs.

    1. Indeed they do Ms. Cindy. Thank you so very much for adding to our conversation ma’am; and CONGRATULATIONS on your retirement. Well done my friend! Well done! God’s blessings and Merry CHRISTmas ma’am.

  5. Loved learning about your most precious gifts. And I knew part of your childhood story, but how sweet the family that loved you so well, gave you the adoption certificate! I’m thankful too for the gift of grace and salvation. And how God, the Father, adopted me into His family! No longer a spiritual orphan!

  6. From what I could read through my tears, I’m overwhelmed with God’s sovereign hand in our lives, especially those broken and longing for love. I thank Him for sending you such glorious gifts, and just so you know, my friendship with you and Diane is one of God’s most special gifts to me. Merry CHRISTmas!!!

    1. Awww… the only tears here are ones of joy sweet friend. Thank you so much for your kind words, all your encouragement this year, and your continuing prayers. I can feel them working in my life; and please know they are reciprocated for you, Mr. Brian, and your entire family. God’s blessings my friend.

    1. Awww shucks. Thank you Ms. Diane. And thank you for the copy of “Love Knots” you signed and sent to us. Diane and I will very much enjoy reading these inspiring words from your Vinewords family of writers ma’am. God’s blessings and Merry CHRISTmas!

  7. Thank you, J.D., for sharing this touching testimony of both Divine and human love. We can’t live without either one. My prayers for the Lord’s continued blessings on your life as we enter a new year. But first, Merry CHRISTmas, friend.

    1. Such truth Ms. Dottie. If only more of us humans could find God’s love, we would have so much more to share with others. I’ll join you in that prayer my Shalom-sharing friend. God’s blessings and Merry CHRISTmas to you and your entire family.

  8. The most wonderful gifts you could ever receive have been bestowed upon you. Thank you for sharing your life with us and showing the hope and grace that comes from God. Your story will help so many others who have experienced the same heartaches. And so thankful for the path those gifts have brought you down. Merry Christmas!

    1. Without question Ms. Barbara. As I’m sure Mr. Ken feels about you, I am blessed far beyond measure ma’am. Merry CHRISTmas over there in South Korea. Praying your safe return home to GA for next CHRISTmas; unless it’s in heaven! Oh, what a celebration that will be! 😀

    1. You are more kind than any three people Ms. Melissa. Thank you for sharing your gentle heart with us Ms. “Mimi”; we are most blessed. I pray they were tears of joy, for all of mine are these days my friend. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. You are so very kind Ms. Cathy. Thank you ma’am. Please know that the blessing of being in your life is mine indeed dear lady. To listen, read, reason, and learn with you is a special gift from God. Thank you for being the Bible teacher He created you to be.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post Ms. Robin. I’m also saddened when I learn that others have had difficult pasts; but I do know this. God won’t erase the memories, but He will take away the pain from them if we let Him. That’s my prayer for you and your husband for the coming year my young friend.

  9. I know it’s well past Christmas as I read this wonderful post, J.D. (and I’m sorry about that), but I just want to document that I have treasured your friendship this past year. Your encouragement has meant so much and these past few months have been so difficult as I’ve had to relinquish my desire to write and succumb to being a true friend to someone in dire need. I know it won’t always be like this (and I cling to that) but for now, my own friendships, near and far, matter a whole bunch! Thank you.

    1. Let me assure you Ms. Karen; the blessing of our friendship is mine ma’am. I’ve learned that as my relationship with God intensifies, so too do my relationships with His children. Perhaps that’s why when friends need help (even if it’s just an encouraging word), He blesses our efforts to extend His love, grace, and mercy outward. The amazing part is that I find I’m always getting back much more than I give. Now isn’t that just like our God? 😀 You hang in there and get through what God is getting you through. Your readers and friends, and that includes me, will be waiting for you when you return. God’s blessings ma’am.

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