A story* has been told many times of a Christian missionary in Africa who received a beautiful seashell as a gift from a student. He had walked a long way ~ to the coast of Africa ~ to get the special shell for his teacher.
"You've traveled so far to bring me such a wonderful present," the missionary teacher told him.
"Oh, teacher," the boy replied, "long walk part of gift!"
We have all been given gifts that deserve the honorable description, "Long walk part of gift" (if we think long enough). The African student understood that the real gift wasn't the shell. The sacrifice he made to give it was truly the real gift.
Parent(s). How much time have your parent(s) sacrificed for you? Think of your expectant mother who carried you for nine months before you were born, and gave you life. Long walk part of gift. Think of the accumulated years that a good parent or guardian cared for you, teaching you, feeding you and loving you. Long walk part of gift.
Teachers: The hours that good teachers have spent preparing lessons, correcting exams, and sharing what they know have left lasting impressions in many of our lives. Long walk part of gift. Who are your favorite teachers?
Friends & Family. Most people have a few moments in life when a friend or relative has called at a moment of crisis or need. Spending time with a friend or relative laughing and having a wholesome good time is a gift. Friendship takes time and effort. Think of something a friend has done for you that took time. Long walk part of gift.
God. Our Heavenly Father sent his Son to earth knowing that He would suffer and die for you and me. What an incomprehensible moment. Long walk part of gift. His love for each of us is that great that He would do this. Long walk part of gift.
Jesus Christ. Our Savior volunteered to leave his Father in Heaven and be born on earth in lowly circumstances. Long walk part of gift. A Christian minister, John Clardy, called that walk "the long walk TO humanity".
Christ walked and walked, taught and performed miracles among those around Him. We are lucky enough to have scriptures to keep learning from Him during his "long walk AMONG humanity"** Long walk part of gift.
"The long walk FOR humanity"** was when our Savior suffered incomprehensibly for each of our sufferings, sins and agonies in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. His atonement was an unfathomable gift of love. Long, long, long walk . . . part of gift.
At this Christmas season as we reflect on the true gift of Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection, may we remember the long walks He took for each of us. As we consider gifts to give to those we love, may we remember that it is not the cost of a gift, but the love, and sometimes the sacrifice, behind it that matters most. When the three kings came to offer gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ-child, remember how far they had come, "Behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. [Matt 2:1,2]"
Long walk part of gift.
*[Norman Vincent Peale often told this story.]
**John Clardy quote.