The Ultimate Gift
From my personal archives. Originally published December 13, 2013
So what could I bring, To honor your majesty?
What song could I sing, That would move the heart of royalty?
When all that I have, Is this life that you’ve given me.
So Lord let me live for you, My song with humility.
Audience of One, Big Daddy Weave
As I write this it is Christmas Day, 2008. For me, this has been the most unusual Christmas since my dad passed away on October 25, 1967. As you can imagine, neither my mother or I felt much like celebrating Christmas that year. We were both still pretty numb with grief. And to make matters even more difficult and trying, mother was struggling with depression and was under the influence of the barbiturates the doctor had prescribed for her.
Our Christmas tree back then was one of those aluminum trees that would reflect the light of the 4-color light-wheel that shone upon it from near the base of the tree. I never liked that tree. It always seemed so cold and barren. It might have looked pretty to some as it reflected the light that shone upon it, but to me it did not reflect the spirit of Christmas. It would have been better – in my estimation – to have had no tree at all.
This year  my mother is 85 years old and is very frail. She suffers with macular degeneration, glaucoma, increasing dementia, and limited mobility. Just yesterday we had to call an ambulance for her, because she does not eat properly and takes Vicodin for chronic pain in her feet, legs, hips, and back. She is still living independently in her own apartment, but I am afraid those days are rapidly coming to a close. My wife and I have been doing all we can to allow her to stay in her apartment, per her desire.
Even with this dark cloud of reality permeating this Christmas, I am very grateful that God’s grace allows me to be here for my mother, even though it is extremely painful to witness her demise; just as it was to watch my dad’s health deteriorate. But today I have something I did not have back in 1967. Neither did I have it when my grandfather passed away six years later. In fact, until a few days ago, I didn’t fully comprehend the tremendous value of what I have today. That is why today I find myself asking what can I bring to honor the One who has blessed me beyond measure. He gave up His life so that I might live. Thus I have only one desire, and that is to live the life He has given me in a way that brings glory and honor to the Name above ALL names.
Thank you, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, for your gracious gift of life. Thank you for your wondrous love and compassion. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your love, so that I might have the privilege to praise and worship you now and forever more. I love you more than anything – even more than the life you have given me. Without you I am nothing. Amen
ADDENDUM: On December 1, 2011 mother passed away. I had gone to visit her the day before in the care center. I am so glad I did.
I had brought and set up lights and a mini aluminum tree in her day-room, like I had the previous two years. She had been asking me to put them up sooner, prior to Thanksgiving. I was stubborn and refused. Now, of course, I wish I had honored her request.
Did she know she wouldn’t see Christmas that year? Whether she did or not, God did – of that I am sure.
Today that mini aluminum tree sits year-round on the top of a bookcase in my home office – right next to a creche that also sits out year round. The bookcase is directly across from my desk.