The Gift

Christmas was just days away. The family had planned a night together. Everybody had been so busy that they had not seen much of each other. Dad had decreed that the whole family would spend the evening together. He would build a fire and pop popcorn. They would watch a Christmas movie, open a gift, eat some Christmas snacks, and just enjoy a relatively quiet time. All the family was on board … except for the youngest son. He was being a pill. “This is dumb.” “Why can’t I go over to my friend’s?” “I’d rather play video games.” It went on and on and on. Griping and complaining, whining and arguing – he was just a joy to be around.

Finally Dad had had enough. “That’s it, sport. I am not allowing you to ruin this evening. Go to your room … an no TV or video games.”

The boy tried negotiating, but no luck. He knew he had gone too far. Crestfallen, he trudged slowly up the stairs. In his room, he could hear the laughter. He could even hear the movie they were watching. No, it wasn’t “Home Alone.”

The family was having a good time. Dad had built a great fire. The snacks were delicious. The movie kept them entertained. It was great … except for one thing. Dad kept looking up the stairs, thinking about his boy. Finally, while the others were horsing around, he crept up the stairs. Knocking softly on his son’s bedroom door, he waited. Finally, the door opened a bit and the tear-streaked face of his son appeared.

“Son, you go on down with the others. I’ll stay up here and take your punishment.”

Wouldn’t happen, right? The father was being too lenient on his ill-behaved son, right? It probably would have done the boy more good if he had to serve his own punishment, right? Do you know any fathers like that?

Particularly at Christmas, I’m glad that Someone was willing to take my punishment for me. I didn’t deserve what He did, but He did it anyway. No greater gift, no greater love.

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About Mark Wilbanks

Dr. Wilbanks became Wieuca’s fifth senior pastor in February of 2012. Mark’s father, Oliver Wilbanks, served as Associate Pastor here from 1966 to 1982. Wieuca had a tremendous influence in shaping Mark’s call to ministry during his teenage and young adult years. A graduate of both Southern and New Orleans Baptist Theological seminaries, Mark has served churches in Kentucky, Florida, and Georgia. He pastored Southside Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida for 17 years and Bradfordville First Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida for ten years. He and his wife, Kim, were married in 1979 and have two sons, Andy and Jordan. Andy is married to Lindsay and they have a son, Cade, a daughter, Ruthie, and welcomed their third child, Samuel, in October.

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