On a shelf. Upstairs in the bedroom. On the table near the door. In a burglar's stash. In the closet of good intentions. These are some of the locations of my unopened gifts.
The above locations are not mine. They are places that belong to people who, over the years, promised birthday, wedding, and good will presents that I never received. Greedy as I am, I often wonder whatever happened to those gifts (even the stolen ones!).
I love to open gifts. I admit that I open greeting cards expecting "something" to fall out. I am impatient with people who get gifts and don't open them right away. I guess it's that delicious feeling of anticipation, much like the smell of cookies baking in an oven. Soon, Gulp! - they're gone. Once the last gift is open, the anticipation is gone. Hopefully, the gift is thoughtful enough to last, even as pleasant memories, just like the cookies that cling to our hips.
Sometimes, the anticipation exceeds the pleasure of the gift. I won't give examples lest I offend friends and family. Nevertheless, gifts are still expressions of the heart of the giver.
There is one giver whose gifts are always timely and perfect. His is a "one size fits all" kind of gift. It's a gift that needs no special occasion. It's the gift of eternal life, offered to everyone every moment of every day. "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Sadly, this gift lies unopened by so many people. Like any gift, it is free for the taking; you can't work to earn it. A gift that's earned is not a gift; it's wages. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
The gift of salvation is like one of those nesting dolls: When you open one, you find another inside. When you accept God's gift of salvation, you get an infinite number of gifts inside - they don't disappear in one gulp.
For example, you receive God's Son Jesus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). You get an open-ended gift registry: "If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it" (John 14:14). You even get a kingdom: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).
These presents come with a lifetime warranty, "for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable" (Romans 11:29). He won't ask for them back, and he will fulfill his promises: "So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
In the TV series "Monk," the main character has an unopened gift from his wife, who was killed by a car bomb. He refuses to open it until "it's time." In the final episode, Monk is dying and decides it's time to open the gift. In that gift is the answer to her mysterious death, the answer he's been waiting for. That answer gives him the strength to recover.
God offers everyone a gift. In that gift are the answers we seek. Don't wait until death keeps his appointment; he doesn't always ring the doorbell first. "It's time" now - don't leave the gift unopened.