By Bridgett Lopata
In December I attended the Choir Soprano “white elephant” Christmas party. This year instead of bringing a “white elephant” gift, I actually brought a nice gift: gift cards to Berry Blends, Starbucks, and Cold Stone. However, the packaging became my “white elephant” contribution to the event.
I made a snowman.
I took each of the three gift cards and wrapped them completely and fully in 3 yarn balls, stuck the whole thing in a clear plastic bag, gave it a scarf, hat, face, buttons and named it Cole. Tied to the scarf was the message, “Melt the snowman to find the gift.” The receiver of the gift had to unwind 744 yards of snow-white yarn to get the present. Additionally, the gift exchange was halted while the person undid the 744 yards of yarn. The bit of mischief inside of me greatly enjoyed every minute and every inch of this. But I received something else too.
I value creativity above any other aspect of myself, because God never fails to show up in the midst of it. He was there, as usual, despite the sheer orneriness and amount of yarn.
My daily reading plan had just taken me into 1 Samuel. In the center of this book is the verse, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God looks at our hearts. The “packaging” does not matter to Him. He is looking for the “gift.” We may try to present ourselves as pure, put together, and ready to go – but really, we are no more than the little snowman made of white yarn, held together by a plastic bag, wearing a scarf and hat. It was only when it “melted” that the true gift was revealed. C.S. Lewis puts it this way, “We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.”
Who wouldn’t want what was in the snowman? A hot chocolate, a fruit smoothie, and a sweet ice cream. I think that there are some days when we could say the same about what “gift” may be inside of us – a heart full of praise, an obedient spirit, or a willing attitude. Other days I think that we do not see the “gift” as much of a gift.
We try to hide the shattered pieces of glass that represent our broken life within a woven, white sphere. We put a fake smile on a little jar of tears. We dress up a wounded heart within a colorful hat and scarf. We do all this because we hold tightly to the false belief that God cares more for the packaging than the gift.
Somewhere in the 744 yards of white yarn I leaned that the “gift” does not always have to be pretty and useful. Sometimes the “gift” is broken and surrendered. What matters is not the appearance or worth of the offering – but the pure, authentic, honesty of it.
Maybe it is time to melt the snowman.