Giving Like God

September 8, 2016 • United States
Operation Christmas Child Fiji

A busy mother explains why she and her family began packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child

Laura Avant is the Adventures in Odyssey Marketing Coordinator with Focus on the Family.

I admit it. As a mom, I lose it sometimes.

It’s not just laundry, overdue checkups for the kids, paint I need to buy to create the solar system out of Styrofoam balls and poster board, a stack of bills on the kitchen counter that I walk past and pretend not to see, or the report due to my boss by 9 a.m. Any one of those is no big deal until you swirl them all together in the time constraints of a busy day.

Operation Christmas Child

A Ugandan boy with the gift he received

School’s back in, which brings a little order back into my world, but in my typical avoidant style, I try to ignore the fact that the calendar is inching toward the mother of all chaotic seasons: Christmas.

Lugging an overstuffed basket of laundry down the stairs and sensing the loss of three or four socks, which have formed a trail from the bedroom hall, I leave the dirty clothes just outside the laundry room on the way to my chair to grab a scant 20 minute quiet time.

But by the time I settle in, Christmas worry has taken center stage: It’s coming, so there needs to be a strategy for surviving the mayhem—the crowds, the shopping list, and the endless details to create obligatory Christmas wonder for my family. I feel sweat on my upper lip until something stops my train of thought in its tracks.

Opening my Bible to James, I read the following: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (1:22, NIV). Exhaling deeply, I continue reading verses 23-25: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

Suddenly, my schedule and concerns seem smaller. In fact, every time I read that passage, I’m struck by the simplicity—coupled with the massive challenge: Do the Word. As I kick around that thought and what it means, I’m reminded that the holidays aren’t about survival. They provide an opportunity to lead my kids deeper into the Truth of Christmas—the gift of Christ.

Doing the Word

Operation Christmas Child

Girls in Fiji look over the items in their boxes after a distribution.

That’s when I remember a video I saw online about Operation Christmas Child. It included footage of children in different countries opening shoeboxes sent from far away. I was teary-eyed seeing the joy of gifts gratefully received by these beautiful children and the message of hope in Christ delivered with them. These children were as excited about toothbrushes and soap as they were about the colorful toys that they pulled from the packages.

That’s it, I think. God has given us His example: He’s given us life, provision, and the gift of His only Son. Now we have the amazing opportunity to be among the givers: doing the Word.

Time to rally the kids. A quick Internet search, and I show them the video and explain the concept of Operation Christmas Child. They have been raised (as I have) in this—by the world’s standards—affluent society, so it’s important for us all to comprehend the need of these children, God’s love for each one of them, and the call and ability we have to join in. Relieved, I see understanding flooding their faces as the video ends, and I know they are all in.

At our family conference around the dinner table, the girls decide to earn the money they’ll use to shop for their shoebox goodies. My oldest girl works part time training dogs and babysitting, another has a small online art business, and the youngest will add some chores to her normal tasks to earn extra. They own this project, and they want to share personally in this experience. Each will manage one of the boxes, and my husband and I will help where needed.

Suddenly Christmas is clearer to me than it has been in years—its beautiful simplicity of a gift given by God to mankind. None of this should be a revelation to me, but it is. I’ve known about this wonderful worldwide outreach for years, and I smile as the table conversation becomes electric with girls discussing their plans.

Suddenly, I realize that I’m learning from them. We can never match our Father in gift giving, but we’re created to give, to think of others, and to surrender the plan of a hectic day to His will. No longer paralyzed by my schedule, I understand that we are recipients of a great gift: the ability to join God in His strategy of giving. 

Focus on the Family is a partner of Operation Christmas Child. To learn more about their ministry, click here.