Jesus’s birthday is drawing close. I want to find the perfect gift for him. You’d think his own mother would know him well enough, but he’s tough to buy for. Even as a little boy, he didn’t need any fancy toys. He took pleasure in a little block of wood, or a bird he coaxed to eat from his hand, or a race with the other boys in the village.
I could buy a lovely piece of wood for him to shape into a household tool, but he doesn’t have much time for carpenter work, now that he has started his ministry. I looked at a little box from traders passing through. He would probably think it pretty, but now that he travels around so much, where would he put a box?
I remember Jesus’s first gifts! I guess every mother remembers her child’s birth on their birthday. It was so long ago—31 years, yet I remember the details as if it happened yesterday. The angel Gabriel and his message—I was to have a baby!—and I had never even been with a man, not even my fiancé, Joseph. He would be God’s own son, and we were to name him Jesus. The Messiah. I would give birth to the Messiah.
I hardly had time to anticipate being a mother. I visited my cousin, Elizabeth, had my wedding to Joseph, and made ready for our trip to Bethlehem for the census.
What a trip that was! I was pregnant with Jesus. The road was crowded with travelers. It was hot, dusty, and oh so uncomfortable. I tried not to complain. Poor Joseph, he was just doing as he had been told by the Romans and by the angel. He was still trying to comprehend his marriage to a woman who was pregnant with God’s son.
Then, when we got to Bethlehem, there hundred of people. Everyone was cross and tired of traveling. We tried to find a room, but there were none to be had, not in all of Bethlehem. I thought Joseph was going to lose it. The offer of the stable came just in time. I assured him the rustic accommodations would be sufficient. I thought if I could just sit and rest a little, I would stop having those pains.
Of course, they didn’t stop, not until Jesus was born late that night. And then all the pains—of labor, of traveling, of not having a room—everything receded as the incomparable joy of being Jesus’s mother consumed me.
I held and rocked and counted toes and fingers. I sang lullabies and told stories and watched Joseph tenderly hold the son that did not come from him.
There were gifts then. The touching gift of the shepherds’ visit, the amazing gifts of the wealthy kings, the gifts of those who seemed to know who Jesus was, even when we had not said a word.
We settled in to raising our family. Jesus was like any baby—he needed his diaper changed, his nose wiped, and skinned knees kissed and made better. We taught him patiently, lovingly—until sometime, somehow Jesus was teaching us. Long before his ministry to the multitudes, he would tell us what God desired, how he wanted us to live, what he wanted us to do.
I don’t know where Jesus’s ministry will take him, or what will happen, or what he needs from me. His ministry seems to divide people—those who believe in him, and those who want nothing to do with what he has to say.
If I am one of those who believe in him, and I am, maybe I can do more than just believe what he says is true. Not just listen to what Jesus says, but make the changes in my life to do what He says. If I can do that, if I can become more like him, maybe that is the gift he would like.
Most people are proud when others say their child is a reflection of them. My gift to Jesus will be when others say I have become a reflection of Him.
Susan Lawrence taught elementary school for 33 years before hanging up her chalkboard to write and speak. She writes novels for both adults and middle grade children. Susan lives in Iowa with her husband and short-legged Lab, Molly. She has 3 children and 7 grandchildren who love to hear her stories.