My family decided years ago that the adults in the family would not exchange gifts at Christmas time. We found it became an added stress and financial burden. All of us grown ups already have much of what we want or make purchases for ourselves, so we focus on purchasing gifts for the children instead. The holidays are a little less stressful this way.
A few Christmases ago, we sat in my living room watching the kids open their gifts. Toward the end of the evening, my parents brought two very large, beautifully wrapped boxes into the room and placed one at my feet and one in front of my sister in law. We were perplexed! I couldn't imagine what might be inside the silver and white package. We were instructed to start opening. The kids all buzzed with delight and squealed, they loved seeing the moms open gifts. To my surprise, my gift was VitaMix blender. I had admired them for years but the cost seemed extravagant to me so I never purchased one for myself. My sister in law found a beautiful Cuisanart Stand Mixer in her package. She also wanted one for years but as moms do, went without. We were just shocked that our parents would give us such wonderful gifts and the kids who were also in on the surprise were thrilled.
Although we really wanted these things, we never made formal requests for them. Our parents were sensitive and attentive to know those were the desires of our hearts. They took the time to notice and make arrangements. What I learned that Christmas is sometimes the very best gifts of all are the ones we don't ask for not because the item is so great but because the giver noticed and made well thought plans. Being noticed and being remembered - universal desires of the human heart.
Mary had an encounter with an angel who announced a gift she hadn't specifically requested. As a devout Jewish girl, she had likely participated in family prayers for the Messiah. Her people had been seeking a Savior for centuries, the One told about in prophesies who would save their people from the unending problem of sin and separation from God. But we do not have record of Mary asking to specifically be the mother of God. How could she even fathom such a thing? The extravagance of Jesus and being the one to carry Him would be a prayer she likely couldn't have conjured on her own.
The Bible tells us that upon hearing Gabriel's declaration, Mary first felt troubled and confused and then declared boldly, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) What a brave and obedient response to this gift from God. Later, Mary beautifully declares God's goodness in a song of thanksgiving, known as "The Magnificat" - it's the most beautiful thank you note ever written for gift:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
or he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Jesus is the ultimate answer of unasked prayers for ALL of us. Before we even realized our need to be saved from our sins, God sent the gift of Jesus by way of a young girl who couldn't fathom why He chose her. God tells us His thoughts are not like our thoughts and His ways are not like our ways (Isaiah 55::8), I'd say this qualifies Him to be the best gift giver of all.
I think of the excitement my sister in law and I felt over luxury kitchen appliances, how much more excitement should we have for the gifts and answers to prayers we dared not utter or even know to ask? Sometimes, we can be like the adults in my family and assume we already have everything we need or want. I marvel how God really knows exactly what we need before we do and makes the provision. This Christmas season, give thanks like Mary at the gifts great and small and the answers to unspoken prayers.