With the frenzy (read: panic) involved in finding the perfect Christmas gift, most folks eventually realize that gifts of the heart—homemade items, baked goods, the gift of time—mean more to our loved ones than anything we could ever buy.
My mom came right out and asked for such a gift a couple of years back. Following the death of her mom (BTW, Nana lived to 103!), God placed a desire on my mom’s heart to hear each of us speak the story of our salvation. On Christmas Eve, as we gathered around the fire in my aunt and uncle’s log home in Evergreen, Colorado, my mom shared her own personal testimony, of coming to know Christ and following Him through her life. One by one, the people I love most in this world, including my dad, my sister, my husband and children, shared their own stories, sometimes detailing challenges or struggles that made them stronger in their faith journey.
I’ve often heard the phrase “not a dry eye in the house,” but this event went far beyond shedding a few tears. In addition to sharing intimate details about following Christ, we also realized and verbalized our anticipation of an eternity together in heaven.
Not long after that happened, I picked up a copy of 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper and Cec Murphey. One thing that struck me was Don’s ambivalence about returning to life on earth. Though he was thankful to be back with his family, he longed for the peace and lack of pain he had experienced in heaven after he died. That story, coupled with the stories my family shared that day, reminded me that we are strangers in this place, ultimately created for fellowship with Our Father forever.
This can be a valuable exercise within families—to encourage one another in the faith, to imagine what heaven will be like, and to practice sharing our testimony of what God has done in our lives.
Of course, if you have relatives who don’t know the Lord, you want to be sensitive to that. For example, you could always share something less intimidating, such as a blessing from the previous year.
Have your family members shared their testimony with one another? If not, I urge you to consider this idea. Psalm 107:2 reminds us to “let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” What better way to nurture our family members in their journey of faith than to encourage one another with the story of our salvation!