Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man – His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God – when we present our bodies a living sacrifice.
Kathy and a group of friends joined me for a girl’s summer fun adventure one year. These four-day, action-packed, motor-coach getaways were always delightful. They involved sightseeing, shopping, banquets, and some serious road time spent watching “chick flicks” as we made the 900-mile journey together (and that's just one-way!).
Partway into the journey home, Kathy asked me if there was any way the bus could make a special stop on the edge of Minneapolis before our scheduled drop-off. There had been a death in her extended family while we were away, and she needed to meet her husband for a reviewal service that evening. The location that she was heading to was a tiny town where some of my own cousins lived. Before we knew it, we discovered that we shared cousins. What a small world! It was the days before cellphones, so I could hardly wait to get home to discuss this with my mom. Neither could she.
The very next morning Kathy and I were on the phone with each other in total shock and amazement. We were childhood playmates for one brief year, in that suburb outside of Minneapolis where Santa had made his dreadful error and brought the oven with my name on it, of all people, to HER!
Who would have ever dreamed that this grown-up friend of mine was my playmate as a little girl and that we’d end up in our adult lives baking cakes and cookies together in our big-girl ovens? Actually, our favorite place to bake cookies together was Kathy’s kitchen. She had a convection oven and even an extra oven for big parties! The “oven envy” I had as a little girl could have followed me into adult life if I would have let it.
In December that year, as we gathered together to share our homemade cookies, this special group of friends presented me with my very own Easy-Bake Oven — 37 whole Christmases later. We’ve laughed about it many times through the years, and Kathy and I have taken a little bit of teasing from our friends about being related. They've wondered if we’d been away together for any family reunions without inviting them.
After receiving that sweet little oven at the cookie exchange, I quickly passed it on. It was Christmas, of course, and toy donations were being collected at a number of places. The oven was a symbol of a precious memory, and surely there had to be a little girl somewhere who could really use it. I never thought twice about keeping it. Yet, a few years later, I decided to search for that original blue Easy-Bake Oven. I found one and ordered it. Now it's one of my treasures.
I remember the day the parcel arrived. After taking it in hand from the UPS man, I headed into my office, anticipating opening it and actually laying eyes on that oven from long ago. I sat down on the floor to carefully unwrap the box. I felt a whirlwind of emotions whipping around the experience of unveiling this 3-pound piece of molded plastic that had captured my heart all those years earlier. I wondered for a brief moment why my parents hadn’t gotten it for me. But then a prayer came out of my mouth. “Oh Lord God, thank you that they never bought it for me, because the story is greater than the gift ever could have been.”
I was overwhelmed by the love of God. He had been faithful to me. He had, in fact, always been there keeping watch over my life. It was truly well with my soul.
I pray the sense of His lavish love and provision is yours this Christmas season too!