Come.

Do you hear the Master calling?

Look, there's a twinkle in His eyes and a huge gift in His hands. Notice how the golden paper glistens with a metallic gleam. And don't you just love the big, blood red bow?

A present. Just in time for the holidays.

Give the big kids an audio classic and put the little ones down to nap. School can wait. Ignore the dust. Meal preparation can be delayed. No one will starve, though your teenage son may think he will. You'll be able to face those holiday preparations with renewed vigor after you've basked in the Master's generosity.

Your Best Friend is really excited about your gift. He's done all the work--choosing carefully what you need most, going to great sacrifice to procure it for you. All that's left is for you to open it. Won't you focus on Him and unwrap His gift?

You pull the pretty velvet bow apart and lift the lid. You can't see what's inside, but you can smell it. It smells like lilacs and fresh cut grass and sunshine. You can feel the present, too. It's solid as iron, soft as a baby's cheek, and makes you warm all over. You can even hear your gift. One minute it swells with symphonic melody, the next it sings with the sweetness of a child. You can almost taste it on your tongue. It's meat, potatoes, and vegetables--all that is solid and healthy--and it is also silky chocolate and all that is sweet.

"What is it?" You ask.

"It's my grace." He speaks with hushed voice, a tinge of emotion lacing His words.

You stare at the box. You've heard about grace before, but you've never really experienced it. Who knew that grace would have a smell, a feel, a taste?

He suggests you reach inside.

You pull out a "G" and frown.

Jesus chuckles. "G is for guilty no more. Too many times you heap condemnation upon yourself. The children bicker and you think it's your fault for not training them well enough. You are overwhelmed with your many tasks and feel guilty that there's dust on the mantle. Your teen has a meltdown and you blame yourself, sure that if you'd spent more time with her she'd be happy.

"But it goes deeper. You beat yourself up for faults and failures I've erased from your record. I've already forgotten them. There's no need to be angry with yourself. I gave my life so you could live without condemnation. You are guilty no more. If you don't believe me, read Romans 8:1. Read it a thousand times and tape it on your bathroom mirror. Live as you are, my dear: Free from condemnation."

You have a big lump in your throat and since you can't talk, you reach back into the box. The letter "R" is in your hand.

The Lord gently lifts your face to his. "R is for Rest in Me. Come to Me when you labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your soul." 1

"I try, but it is so hard to rest," You say.

Jesus tilts his head. "Think about when you nursed your last baby. Do you remember how you cradled him in your arms and he nuzzled to your breast? You nourished him, body and soul. Even as he was fed, he never took his eyes off of you. He gazed at you with complete satisfaction, trust, and peace. Rest in me as your baby rested in you. I will nourish you. I will lead and comfort you."

Your eyes are glued to the Master, hungry to believe all He is saying, but there is hesitancy, a fear you don't deserve to rest.

"My daughter, did your baby do anything to earn your love?"

You shake your head. "No. I loved him more as I served him, even though he could do nothing to help me."

"In the same way, I don't expect you to earn My love or the right to rest. I simply come and say, 'Are you tired? Let me help you. Are you burdened? Let me carry it. Do you feel guilty or ashamed? Let Me take that and replace it with forgiveness and acceptance.'"

Little tears gather in your eyes as you listen to Him. It's so much to absorb and you haven't even spelled out the whole word. You hesitate. The Lord reaches in the box and pulls out the next letter, "A." With trembling fingers you reach for it, running your thumb down it's long, sleek sides.