As an elementary and middle school teacher for 24 years, I received every gift imaginable from my students. Some were left on my desk with notes from the parent; others were quickly handed to me by hormone-filled teenagers as they paraded into my classroom, but a few would find their way to me through a big smile, outstretched hands, and delight that only a little child can express. While I appreciated all of them, the homemade or sacrificial trinkets were my favorite. Here’s a few that adorned my room:
- Half-full perfume bottles
- Squiggly artwork
- Bruised apples
- Tarnished jewelry
- Unidentifiable art projects
- Ragged toys
Why did I love these gifts so much? Because they signified that I was important, remembered, appreciated, and loved. Each offering represented a bit of their admiration. In a box in my garage is a little dirt-covered, worn, miniature doll that I will always keep because it’s the first gift I ever received as a teacher. Several precious ornaments from my students adorn my Christmas tree. Each year as I lovingly place them on a branch, I recall memories of my time in the classroom.
How I felt when a child stood before me with their treasure held aloft is the way I envision God feels about us. He’s thrilled with each gift we offer. I think His favorites are the less attractive, sacrificial ones that arrive tattered and torn and ill-wrapped.
- Maybe a few minutes of time on a rushed morning
- A kind deed to a stranger
- A decision to do what’s right
- A sacrifice to follow His path instead of our own
- A cry for help in the midst of our darkness
- A thankful heart for all He’s done
- Moments of praise in the midst of difficult circumstances
But the most precious gifts are those things we treasure above all and are willing to entrust to Him. Our goals, dreams, and desires surrendered to His care. Even if resting in our hands sits heartache, sin, despair, shame, or any other hindrance we carry, it is precious to Him. What we consider old, used, or unworthy, He accepts with love and delight.
What have you offered Him today? The greatest gift is you.