Friday, December 21, 2012

It's the Thought that Counts

Are you "ready for Christmas," whatever that means? Me, I've barely had the chance to step into a shop this year. I know that my family will forgive me: "It's the thought that counts," they will say with great kindness, knowing that buying presents at Christmastime is not my strong suit. I need a long time to think and to plan and shop for exactly what it is I feel the person might like ... and with the crazy schedule at the TH plus Carswell, time is the greatest gift I can be given at this point of my year.

Isn't it very special, then, to receive some gift or service, knowing how much time, thought and effort has gone into its preparation or selection?

For example, the first time I met Kent Wong he didn't say much at all. He sat me in his chair and silently measured my head with his fingers; he tugged on my hair and weighed it in his hands; he put gold and silver fabric swatches around my neck to see which provided a better complement to my skin tone. He sat back on his stool and stared fixedly at my head. All of this took the better part of half an hour.

He was not to be hurried as he washed and conditioned and cut and styled.

When I left there I had experienced the best haircut of my life.

And all this thought and care was delivered by someone who didn't even know me!

On Tuesday at the Robertson Manor weekly meeting, Dad spoke for just a few minutes on the birth of Jesus. Actually, he entitled his meditation "Behind the Birth of Jesus." We read the familiar story in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2. Luke was a physician, Dad commented, and he recorded details that we would never have known if it weren't for his acute attention to those details.

But for "the Christmas story summarized," Dad went on, look at the little book of Philippians chapter 2 and verses 5 - 8:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.(King James Version)

A newer translation, the English Standard Version, puts it this way:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus as the very Son of God - as very God - took on the form (meaning the essence) of a servant. He became a servant by being born in the likeness of human kind. And then He humbled Himself further, even to death on the cross, so that He could offer Himself as the sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world.

Long before Jesus came to earth, He was thinking of us. Psalm 139 verses 17 and 18 are David's exclamation of wonder that God was thinking of him:

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

The word thoughts has the idea of something that has been planned and contrived to bring to fruition.

Psalm 40 verse 5 says this:

Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

Dad told the story of how, back in August 2007, Mum gave one of my sisters as quilt for her birthday. The back story is that some time later, Dad read Mum's note in her book for that day. She said that she had been up all night and had completed the quilt at 5:30 that morning. She was so happy.

Exactly one month later, she was dead. "Knowing what went on behind the scenes made the quilt even more precious," Dad said softly.

The value of something is often not understood unless you know what is behind the action.

Dad quoted the familiar line of a song: Long before time began you were part of His plan ...

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life ..." I hear and say the words of John chapter 3 and verse 16 often, galloping over the first part to get to the promise of eternal life. But what about the first part? The gift is of course important; but what if it had not been given in love?

In this Christmas season, as we reflect on how much we are thinking about our loved ones, let's keep in the back of our minds how much God had been thinking about us before Jesus was ever born that first Christmas night. And we can rejoice in the knowledge that He continues to think of us and want only what is best for us. 

Here are the rest of the lyrics for that old song - how appropriate for today!

Tenderly He watches over you, 
Every step, every mile of the way; 
Like a mother watching over her baby, 
He is near you every hour of the day. 

When you're weak, when you're strong, 
When you're right, when you're wrong, 
In your joy and your pain, When you lose and when you gain: 
tenderly He watches over you, 
every step, every mile of the way. 

Long before time began you were part of His plan; 
Let no fear cloud your brow, He will not forsake you now: 
Tenderly He watches over you every step, every mile of the way 

These are days when the world is uncertain, and the power of the atom unknown; 
But a far greater power up yonder 
Ever watches and cares for His own.

How much indeed the thought counts ...


  1. I knew that Mum would be "home for Christmas" but I didn't know how ... now I do, and this story is the start. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful and precious to read. Taken to heart. Thank you Karyn.

  3. "Long before time began you were part of His plan ..."....yes so true....and Karyn I grew up reading and believing in this too....“The reward of deeds depend upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” indeed its the thought that counts!

    1. To add to what you said, Zeba, I am so thankful for the comfort I can derive from your reminder that God looks on my heart, and that it is according to His mercy that I am His child and not dependent upon the works of righteousness that I may or may not have done! How could I cope otherwise, knowing that my deeds fall so short? Yikes!


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...