A couple of days ago I pushed everything aside and sat down and read a book. Opportunities like this rarely happen in my busy life, so I enjoyed the day of down time and getting lost in a good book.
I chose to read The Christmas Sweater, by Glenn Beck. It is a powerful story based on a personal experience from his life. It is a quick read, at only 263 pages long.
It is the story of a young boy named Eddie who endures incredible hardship and heartbreak. Near the beginning of the book, his father dies of cancer. His mother takes on multiple jobs and struggles to make ends meet. Eddie is twelve years old, and the only thing he wants for Christmas is a new, red bike. He works hard at his chores, keeps a positive attitude, and drops a lot of hints to his mom about his desire for the bike. As Christmas approaches, he is convinced that he has done everything he can to earn it. He doesn’t understand that the money simply isn’t there for such a purchase. His mom knits him a beautiful sweater, and that is his big gift for the year. He is devastated…and angry. He tells her that he wants to go upstairs and put it away. When she checks on him, she sees it crumpled in a ball on the floor. She is deeply pained by that, and in his youth, he is too angry to apologize. Tragedy strikes again. He is surrounded by love, but because of the trauma, his heart becomes cold and hard, and he begins to head down a dark and bitter road. He thinks that happiness lies in wealth and tries to break free from everything in his life that reminds him of the pain that he has endured. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, as there is a significant twist in it that I never saw coming.
In the epilogue, Mr. Beck offers his own personal reflections on the story. This particular passage caught my eye and has stuck with me ever since I closed the book:
“I guess the real lesson I learned that last Christmas with my mother was that the greatest gift is any gift that is given with love. I so clearly remember the look in her eyes as she saw my sweater rolled up in a ball on the floor of my room, and I remember realizing all that she had done for that gift. I refuse to stand at His feet and see Him with the same look in His eyes as he asks me, “Son, is that the gift I gave you.”
Pick up your redemption. Cherish it. Wear it. Share it. It has the power to transform lives. It has transformed mine.” (The Christmas Sweater, Glenn Beck, pages 271-272)
Mr. Beck is right. The greatest gift is one that is given with love. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God is love, and He offers redemption and eternal life to anyone who will accept His Son as atonement for his or her sin.
Regardless of whether you agree with Mr. Beck’s political views or not, I would encourage you to read this book. It is a powerful story of love and redemption, and a wonderful way to spend a wintry day.