I remember it as if it were yesterday.
It was one of those years, (most families have them), when our parents had let us know things were a bit tight financially and that there wouldn't be much gift-giving in our household that Christmas. I remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I processed the thought that there would be no Lincoln Logs or Erector Set like last year.
So you can imagine my surprise when daddy and mother began dropping broad hints about what might be under the Christmas tree for me. Seems everyone in the family was in on the surprise except me.
"It's about six feet long" , one of them said.
And then to add to my confusion another family member mentioned it was only about three or four inches wide...mostly.
What?? How can it be that long but so narrow??
But then, another "loving" person, (sibling, no doubt!) brought up the fact that another of its dimensions was 26 inches. Oh...and yet another was 20 inches, or so.
Wait...! How can one gift have so many different dimensions??
I puzzled and pondered whatever in the wide world of sports might be coming for the kid who days earlier was considering what it might feel like to have a big zero under the tree on Christmas Day.
The time between the "announcement" and that special day passed agonizingly slowly. I fretted, whined and wheedled trying desperately to find a weak link in the chain who might let something slip that would help me figure it out. Alas; no one broke the stony silence after those few hints had been dropped.
Christmas Eve came and went when normally our family opened presents and "had Christmas". Other than a few remembrances there wasn't much under the tree. I remember a card game called, "Authors". And that may have been the year the family at large received a "Monopoly" game. Some small thing for Sue and a sack of candy for each of us. Oh there was lots of love to go around and plenty to eat. We played games and enjoyed some of Mama's readings. I'm sure we ended the evening with a rousing time of singing around our old green and red Naugahyde covered piano. (Mama could sure make that old thing talk!) But nothing was there that fit the description I had been given.
Sleep didn't come easily that night. I didn't know whether to feel deeply disappointed or full of anticipation for tomorrow.
Christmas Day finally dawned with the family all gathered, anxious to see my reaction to my amazing gift with all the strange dimensions.
Unbeknownst to a little boy distracted by the obtuse hints, daddy had found an old bicycle someone else didn't need any more. He had gotten it for almost nothing and had invested a fortune in parental love resurrecting it with new crank bearings, new tires, new spokes, new handlebar grips with tassels, and a bright new coat of fire engine red paint! I couldn't believe my eyes!!
I have never received a more amazing and treasured gift than that!
And the delight in the family's eyes as I realized they had all told the truth about the height, width and length of my anticipated gift...priceless!
Makes one wonder what is really coming when this life is finished. The dimensions and description we have of Heaven in the Bible are no doubt accurate to the last detail. But the information we have is so far short of the reality of Eternity's magnificence! Just wait till you see the "Place" Jesus has prepared for you who believe! What an indescribable Gift!!
Be faithful and patient...
Richard Orrell, pastor