“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son . . .” – John 3:16
We used to have this old cat in our family who, for lack of a better name, we called Puddy Tat, or Puddy for short (yes, like the cartoon cat who was forever stalking that clever little canary, Tweety Bird). To say Puddy was not a nice kitty would be a gross understatement. He was so infamous in our family, in fact, that even today when we have family gatherings Puddy stories still abound around the dinner table. One such story occurred every year around this time when the Christmas tree was up and decorated, old Puddy would crouch behind it awaiting the opportunity to ambush the first unsuspecting soul to walk by when he would leap out from beneath the tree, wrap his front legs around the victim’s ankle and sink his teeth into him or her until he drew blood.
Each year around Christmastime the family would all agree that “Puddy would be getting nothing but a lump of coal in his stocking, that’s for sure!” Yet, when Christmas day rolled around, undeserving as he was, Puddy’s stocking (yes, he had one) would be nonetheless stuffed with an assortment of kitty treats, cans of exotic cat food, and toys laced with catnip, as if he had done nothing naughty and everything nice.
Despicable and undeserving as he was, Puddy Tat got treated to as nice a Christmas as “the lord-mayor himself,” as Dicken’s Bob Cratchit would say. Yet, the truth is that as I look back over my own life, at least in those moments when I am totally honest with myself, I am no different than old Puddy; for nothing – I mean nothing! – I have ever done is deserving of the bountiful blessings I have received in my life. The family I was born into, my loving wife of fifty-one years, our children and grandchildren, friends, our lovely home, prosperous careers, health, and almost anything else I could name, it is all a gift of God’s grace. Just like old Puddy’s Christmas stocking, it is a gift undeserved.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son . . .” It was the greatest gift ever given to mankind, even though we don’t deserve it. There is no way we can re-pay God, no gift is big enough, nor can we thank him enough. The best we can do is show our gratitude through gifts to one another, and generosity toward others, deserved or not – just like God has done for us. May God bless you all this Christmas season!
Abundant Living will return January 2023.