Making Space – An Advent Devotional


Empty Boxes

Growing up in India, I remember Christmas as a child. My sister and I ended up with a grand total of one gift each. Or less. Surprisingly enough, not even for a moment did we consider it a human rights violation! Because Christmas was so much more than gifts. It was about carol singing and platefuls of biriyani, homemade plum cake heavy with dried fruit and “Christmas trees” made of green tinsel and decorated with balloons and cotton wool “snow.” 

As part of our Christmas decorating, I remember covering empty cardboard cartons with gift wrapping paper to place under the tree. Empty cardboard cartons. I had seen Christmas trees choked with presents in Hollywood movies. But, in my mind, those were props. All of them couldn’t possibly be real presents. 

No, we weren’t poor or miserly. Having a bunch of gifts under the tree just didn’t map on our radar.

But maybe, just maybe, those empty boxes are significant. 

So often, our lives are too full of stuff, too choked with activity, too “satisfied” with the temporary, too preoccupied with the gifts, that we forget the Giver.

But it’s only when we offer up our empty boxes that He has a chance to fill them. He is ready to give us an identity as His child, a significance that we are known and loved by Him, a purpose that we are created for His glory and for the good works that He has prepared. But first we have to give Him the chance.

I’ve seen my children’s eyes light up with the thrill of Christmas gifts. But after the wrapping paper wreckage has been cleared, and the gloss of new gifts has faded, there’s always more that they want in a few weeks. What a picture of us grownups! Let’s recognize that we can never be deeply and fully satisfied apart from Christ. 

Sure, gifts are great and the joy of giving greater, but let’s not cling to our gifts so much that we forget the Giver.


Father, help me come with open arms. To receive from You, to drink from the streams of Living Water and eat of the Bread of Life. Help me let go of the temporary fixes and the gifts that delight for today, and let me look to You, the Giver of all good things. Amen