We’ve all been there before. Christmas is approaching and you have that one person on your list that is impossible to buy for. It’s your mother in law, your boss, or Ted from accounting whose name you drew in the company gift exchange you immediately regret participating in. The following is a story that I wished really happened to me, at a company I wished really existed, that I really wish I really worked for. Even though it’s just a story, I hope you’ll still get the point.
I was working as an employee of Heaven Incorporated, the biggest company in the Universe. Owned and operated by God, with Jesus Christ as President and CEO. The esteemed Joseph Smith headed the board of Directors which also includes Nephi, Abinadi, King Benjamin, Heleman, Moroni, Alma, and Samuel the Lamanite. It’s a flawlessly run company with about 150 gazillion employees. The annual birthday celebration of our CEO was approaching and I was so excited because the owner always makes it a big deal! For this event all the employees from all divisions are called to the Great Hall where the annual drawing of names takes place for the gift exchange. This year It was also announced that for the first time ever, God would also be entered in the annual gift exchange. How Exiting!
I was in the elevator heading down with Ephraim Hanks, Tiancum, and 7 of the stripling warriors singing “everything is awesome” in unison because at Heaven Incorporated everything really is awesome. The gift exchange from the year prior was a breeze! I drew was Frank from shipping. It was super easy, I just had my wife gift wrap his Olive Garden gift certificate and then stuffed myself silly with Moses’s famous Cinnamon Manna bread that is a huge hit every year.
I reached the lobby and said Hi to Gordon B Hinckley who runs the product develop division and his assistant Hyrum Smith. I hopped in line to draw the name from the hat. My turn finally came and I stuck my hand in among the gazillion names and pulled out a paper. Oh boy, wait… this must be a mistake! My knees buckled as I read it again. Sure enough it was unmistakable. My paper read: God.
No way! Suddenly my jokes with Lehi and Ammon a minute ago in line about the difficulties of buying gifts for our wives didn’t seem that funny anymore. I had a real conundrum on my hands. What would I, what should I and what could I possibly give God? It was obvious it was going to have to be more heartfelt then an Olive Garden Gift certificate. I couldn’t get it off my mind.
I stressed all day and upon getting home I wracked my brain. How about the new iphone 6? Nah. Everybody knows he’s totally an android guy. How about a super exotic bore hair brush for him to comb his beard? Nah. How about a sweet new Calvin Klein robe? No way. Making no progress I started “googling” all sorts of stuff like “what to get the guy who has everything” and “what to give the almighty at the Christmas party gift exchange” but it didn’t help. Finally I gave up and went to bed still empty handed for the gift exchange the following day. At work the next morning I finally had the “ah hah” moment I was waiting for! I knew what I would get God! Duh, it’s what everyone would love! (at least I knew I would) I would get him A Gopro Hero 4 Black Edition Video Camera! “Yes! Nailed it” I thought! I went and purchased the gift and arrived back at work just in time for the party and gift exchange full of confidence and feeling like 10 thousand talents!
The gift exchanges commenced as the employees gathered in the great hall and were called up two by two to be witnessed by all. Everyone was having a good time. Peter, James and John all got matching ugly Christmas sweaters while Mathew, Mark, and Luke all got the new Piano Guys album on Itunes they all wanted. John the Baptist got a pair of waterproof waders, Enos got a pair of knee pads and Porter Rockwell got a new Norelco beard and mustache trimmer set. Everything was going swell and then the moment of truth arrived. The last two people to exchange gifts were called forward, God and myself.
God politely asked to go first and presented my gift. It was small and wrapped beautifully. With my hands shaking I opened it. It was a handwritten note. I began reading out loud for all to hear:
You may think I do not know you, as I oversee countless from a far, but that my child just isn’t true, I know exactly who you are!
I know your talents and your gifts, for I gave them all to you, the very body which you have, your abilities and senses too.
The very air you breathe, through the lungs that fill your chest, your very soul within you, and the heart beating within your breast.
I granted you your very life, and everything joyful you find, my greatest gift above all these, was my Son so perfect and so kind.
I’ve provided for you the Priesthood, and Temples to dot the earth, that you may help others also, for I consider you of great worth!
I make possible your way, every day of your life, I’ve lead you to a beautiful woman, who you are blessed to call your wife.
I knew she would make you happy, and in you bring out your best, to support you in all things, and leave you richly blessed.
Not a single day I’ve left you, and that I will never do, for without me you would be lost, and I will not forsake you.
I love you more than you can know, but please know this my Son, I will be waiting here to greet you again, when your life is done
You’re Boss, God.
Filled with incredible love and gratitude for God and his Son I realized the very works I had read aloud had brought not only myself but the entire hall to their knees in gratitude for the Father. The words from God which I had read had entered the hearts of those watching. With tears down my face I pondered for a second. I was stumped on how to respond. My simple vocabulary wouldn’t suffice to portray the love and gratitude I was feeling. I felt inadequate to the highest degree. I turned around to view those in the hall, many with tears streaks down their face also. The entire Hall was filled to its entirety yet was completely and totally silent. Then, reality entered again and I realized I was TOAST! I thought back at the gift I had to give God and lost all confidence in it. Nothing could even come close to measuring up to what I had been given. I came to this gift exchange feeling like 10 thousand talents and now I felt more like 100 pence. My gift wouldn’t even qualify as a “white elephant gift” in comparison. Then a gentle thought entered my mind. I found the courage and raised myself to my feet and though my very frame shook, I spoke simply and clearly.
“Father, as you know I am a simple man, born as the mortal Son of a school teacher in a small town. I am not of royalty or of riches or esteem. I speak but a single language, and have never traveled to any foreign countries. I do not have decades of advanced learning to claim, nor do I hold any degrees in physics, law, or chemistry. I know little of science or astronomy or of different cultures of the world…”
“However, I will tell thee what I do know. I know exactly who thou art! I know of thy power, thy abilities and incredible unfailing love for myself and all that ever were or will be. I know of thy patience, tenderness, mercy, guidance, and forgiveness. I know thy Son also, even Jesus the Christ! I know of his sacrifice for all that we might be able to again live within thy presence. I know and revere the Priesthood and its power and ability to perform thy will, with thy power in the name of thy Son! I know thou hast given me the body which I care for, along with the gifts, talents, and abilities I am grateful and thankful unto thee for. I know thou art in control of all things and hast all power. How do I know this? Because I feel it! The very soul which thou hast given me explodes with gratitude, love and joy for thee and thy son! I know that thou art God, and that Christ is Christ because I feel it! The Spirit has made it manifest unto me! I have felt thy love, I have felt thy presence, I love thee and I know that thou does love me also! I have used the Priesthood in the name of thy Son and spoke the very words which thou placed into my mind! I have seen miracles performed by thee for my benefit! I know that thou art here, and that thou does live, and that thy son does live also! I know that thy Son is perfect and hast provided the perfect example of how I should live. I seek to live by that example every day of my life. I seek to follow thee and thy son in all ways each and every day. I know that I am imperfect and I am grateful for the sacrifice of thy son and for the means to one day remain with thee. I am grateful for the gifts, talents and abilities which thou so generously bestows upon my head. I am grateful for the type of spirit thou has made me Father. I am grateful to at times be allowed to be a tool in thy hands and I am grateful for all things thou hast done or will do for me”.
At these words I again found myself upon my knees drained, as if the words and feeling of love had exhausted my physical body. Looking down I continued…
“Father, I have nothing to give to thee of worth but myself. The very gifts I have received from thee I have sought to also share with others. I know these gifts are above the worth of the world and I seek to freely give of them. I have not, for I cannot keep them unto myself. However, if thou does at this point or at any other want them back, know that I will freely give them unto thee. Thou canst have my very body, my life, even my very soul if it pleases thee Father, for that is what I strive only to do. Praise and glory be to thee for all things. Slowly, raising my head again still feeling inadequate and meeting my Father’s eyes I said “Father, I give myself to thee for that is all I have to give”.
With these words tears rolled down my Father’s eyes. He replied “What greater gift than this can there be? This gift, is the gift which I seek. Well done Riley, my good and faithful servant. The smallest gift of all is a man wrapped in himself, for he gives not even that to others”. He opened his arms and beckoned me forward. Our embrace was the sweetest I have ever known with a feeling of love and gratitude beyond description. At this, the hall exploded with joy! It was as if all the words both received and given between God and myself were received and given by all.
Then, with words only for me to hear and a smile and wink God said “by the way, you can keep the GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition Camera you bought for me, you’ll enjoy it more than I will”. Wahoo!! It was officially the best gift exchange ever!
There are multiple morals of this story, and I’ll let you distinguish them for yourself. However, if you take nothing more from this story just remember what this Christmas season is all about. Know that Christ truly is “the gift” which is the greatest gift ever given, and it was given to all. Let us all remember that “The smallest gift of all is a man wrapped in himself”. This season and always let’s strive to #sharethegift