Have you ever been a party to a secret Santa gift exchange? That is where you bring a gift and secretly give it to another while at the same time receiving a gift from someone unknown to you. It is a fun time as long as you have a right heart in the matter. That is, you are a part of this festivity for the purpose of giving, not getting. If you are hoping for a great gift, you may be disappointed, but that isn’t the point of the exercise now is it? I remember one time giving a nice $20 gift card to Starbucks. What did I get? I received a 1-week trial certificate to a local health club (it was a standard advertised notice of a free trial for anyone who walked into the club and what was this person trying to say to me anyway?).
God has a gift exchange for us as well. In the book of Isaiah 61:3, the scripture says this, “…provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” The Lord wants to bestow all of His wonders upon us and all we have to do is give what we have to Him; like the example above, it is not a balanced exchange.
He gives us beauty in exchange for our ashes, joy in place of our mourning and a garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness on our souls. He wants to exchange our sin for His righteousness, our weakness for His strength, our hurt and brokenness for His healing, our rejection for the Creator’s love and acceptance, our guilt and shame for His glory, our punishment of death for His resurrection and life. Jesus gave His life in exchange for ours. If we are willing, all we need do is surrender our lowly life of sin and Jesus gives in exchange the right to become a son of the living God and joint heir with Him.
Pastor Chris Hayden