The Gift of an Experience


By Amy Thompson

I recently found myself involved in a conversation about gift giving. This individual was sharing the pressure she feels in selecting a gift for her children or family member. The conversation centered around seeking the perfect gifts to give and then a year later noticing that you are placing those same gifts in the donation pile. She even noted the disappointment felt when finding the gift hadn’t even been used.
She went on to share that she had heard a segment on the radio about giving experiences rather than toys or items. I shared with her that my family had experimented with this idea. My son is an avid sports fan and enjoys watching all levels of basketball.     
The Minnesota Timberwolves were coming to Kansas City for a preseason exhibition game with the Miami Heat, and it was occurring a week after my son’s birthday. We purchased a TWolves shirt with Andrew Wiggins’ number on the back and placed it in a wrapped box with the tickets. 
Our family had an amazing evening filled with pictures and great stories. Memories that we will treasure, and two months later, my son is still talking about the experience with others. The experience gift seems to have a longer lasting impact than the traditional toy or item.
We, as followers of Christ, are aware of a gift that, when experienced, creates a life-changing impact. The gift of God’s love on Earth through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ, is a gift for us. It is also a gift to be shared with others that do not know of such life-changing love. Our challenge is to share this gift of love and not keep it to ourselves or leave it sitting at the bottom of a toybox. 
As I think about our expectations with helping others to know the love of Jesus, we sometimes expect it to be an activity that the church hosts on a Wednesday night or maybe it is the time spent distributing food at the church food pantry. While these can be actions in demonstrating the love, what if we could approach sharing the gift of God’s love as an experience? What would go into this experience?
As with all things, it should begin with prayer. Pray for God to guide you in noticing where His love needs to be shared. Allow the Holy Spirit to nudge you and move you. Have courage to initiate interactions with someone. Quiet your voice and be willing to listen. Be present in the moment that you are sharing with someone. Be willing to invest time into creating more than one opportunity in order to help someone truly experience the love of Jesus. We know that the love of God is always present and available. Help someone else discover this promise. 
The birth of Jesus Christ into this Earthly world is God’s fulfillment of a promise for a broken world. We still live in a broken world that requires a message of love in order to heal. We can provide experiences in knowing a love that can heal all wounds. This season give the gift of an experience.