Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. I Thessalonians 5:24
My brother died of a heart attack in January of 2006 at the age of 58. As I was going through his papers, I came across an essay in which he wrote, “As Christmas 1978 approached I asked Jesus what I could give Him for His birthday. I felt the distinct impression that His answer was 30 souls. The idea scared me, but on Christmas morning I knelt and committed myself to do all in my power to give what He asked.”
Brad was a pastor, with a flair for preaching, but he was also very shy. Because witnessing is more intimate than preaching, he found it difficult, even painful, to talk about his faith with others. To keep his promise, he had to learn to manage his fear. At the end of 1979, he was able to write, “What a joy to celebrate with more than 30 new Christians this Christmas.”
In 1979 and each year thereafter, when Brad asked Jesus what he could give him for his birthday, the answer was souls. Each year the number Jesus requested increased. Each year Brad said yes. Each year he worked through his fear. Each year he met his commitment.
Year by year, as Brad faithfully kept his promises, his opportunities for ministry grew—amazingly—and he learned that when God asks something of us, he provides the ways we can accomplish it. At the end of his life, Brad knew that he had helped over 100,000 people to know and love Jesus as the Christ. God taught him how to give the gift of Jesus, as he sought to give gifts to Jesus.
My brother’s last Christmas gift to me was the question that changed and focused his life. I no longer allow myself to believe that gifts given to others at Christmas are gifts to Jesus. Nor do I assume that I know what Jesus wants me to give or to whom. Instead, I ask, “Fairest Lord Jesus, what would you like for your birthday?” Then, I listen and respond, trusting that he knows my abilities and my fears, and will be beside me in every opportunity he provides, enabling me to do whatever he asks.
Prayer: Dearest Savior, what can I give you for your birthday this year?
About the Contributor
Carol Gutman is a retired educator. She serves on the Diaconate and the Mobile Meals Flower Committee.