If you ask me what is the best gift I’ve ever received I would, without hesitating, tell you about my piano. It was right after Christmas, a few days before I turned 16, and my parents gave me the amazing gift of a baby grand piano. This was the culmination of practicing for years on a worn out old upright but loving the art of playing piano.
It was a big gift that came on a big truck all the way from the big city. It was wrapped up with the biggest bow I had ever seen. When they unwrapped it and set it up it shined like a brand-new penny (or a brand-new glossy black piano!).
This was not business-as-usual in the Koltiska house. While my parents always loved to give and make Christmases and birthdays special, the piano was epic. It was a sacrifice for my parents to give it but they knew it also wasn’t a gift for just that day, or that year, but something I could enjoy for years. They were right. Twenty years later, my biggest requirement when looking for a house to buy for me and my family was whether the living room was big enough for my piano. I have now played piano for 25 years. I played last night with my wife and children singing Christmas carols (with many verses of “Batman smells and Robin lays an egg” resounding off the walls). The piano is a gift that will keep on giving for my lifetime.
I remember how pleased my dad looked giving me the piano. He made it happen. I think he even cried when it came and he saw my reaction. I can’t be sure, but if you know my dad, it probably did happen. He wanted to give me the best gift.
I now understand as a dad how exciting it is to give my kids something that they will love, and I have a new appreciation for how my dad felt giving me the ultimate gift. In Matthew 7:11, it says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” My dad, who is amazing, is not a perfect man (dad, if you are reading this, just know you are pretty dang close!). But he knew how to give a good gift to his son and he found great joy in doing so.
Now imagine our Father in heaven: perfect, holy, loving, all-knowing, all-powerful. He loves us even more than my dad loves me and you better believe God loves giving us good gifts. As beautiful and memorable as my piano has been, God gave all his children the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ. He knew what we needed. He knew what would give us joy. He knew that his children were not perfect and needed someone to save them, so he sent the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, a gift to all his children that would be eternal. My piano is almost 30 years old, but Jesus is forever.
Jesus’ birth may not have come with a big bow and looked quite as shiny as my piano, but it was given with the intention and love of the perfect Father who loves his children with literally everything he has. It was a sacrifice for him without a doubt, and while I don’t know if God cried giving Jesus to us, knowing who he is, it may have happened. But he wanted to give me the best gift. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Ryan Koltiska is the executive director of Sheridan KidsLife.