The year was 2005.
With an eager expectancy we navigated our way through the ever-thickening crowd.
The numbing (or perhaps soothing) roar of conversations all around.
There were couples casually cruising. Small bands of teenagers sauntering.
Lone mothers briskly darting and doting in and out of shops, victoriously marking off gifts on gradually-shrinking lists.
The blend of aromas from the food court suggested we were getting closer…
nearer to the ultimate, culminating purpose of our journey.
And then it happened. The crowd broke. There he was. Santa!
“Look Mommy, it’s Santa Claus! It really is.”
We made a quick stop to comb hair and brief the boys on St. Nick etiquette.
We rehearsed what each would ask for. This was, after all, their big opportunity.
This was their one shot to get it right-to let him know.
As we crossed the “wait here” tape, the strangest thing happened to our (then) two-year-old. Thrill and exhilaration turned to fear and trepidation.
We timidly, reverently, edged our way closer. Step by step. Or, perhaps 1/2 step by 1/2 step, until we were in the very presence of His Merry-ness himself.
Knees knocking, and uncharacteristically quiet, Jackson approached the throne of The Great Giver of Gifts–which was about as far as he could muster the courage to go.
Muscles tense, feet turned in the opposite direction, he did bring himself to reach forward and take the package of complimentary M&M’s from The Red-suited One.
Of course, having been through the routine before, his older brother, our (then) four-year-old, confidently assumed his rightful position on the lap of The Jolly Old Elf and not only articulated his wish list, in detail, but also proceed to inform The Great Double-Checker of Lists that we were going to leave HIM something on Christmas Eve as well.
Milk and cookies, of course.
As I think about the different reactions each of our sons had that year, it calls me to wonder.
In the process of growing up spiritually, is this how we approach God?
Naturally, over time, our comfort and our trust in God grows.
But moreover, so does our RESPONSE to God.
We evolve from those who only take, to those who understand we have something to give too! The more mature we become in Christ, the more we relinquish our lives as the “milk and cookies” that we set out, in order to show God that we “get it.”
We “set out” our gifts in this life as a response to the extraordinary ways in which God has lavished us with goodness and grace.
As we draw closer to Christmas, and the end of 2018, let me encourage you to remember your church in your end-of-year generosity. In response to all God has done in us, through us, and for us this year, let’s remember to demonstrate our deep gratitude by giving back to God.
Have I told you lately how much I love being your pastor?
Well I do.
Dr. Shaun King
Johns Creek Baptist Church