I have a "present shelf". During the year, as I see gifts that I want to give people, I buy them and then keep them on this shelf until their birthday or Christmas, when I all I have to do is walk in the closet, rummage through the shelf and decide which gift to give what person. Sometimes I just buy generic gifts, things you could give almost anyone and they would like, and keep those on the shelf too. Most of these generic gifts were bath or lotion sets that had been marked down 75-90% off after Christmas. Cheap, universal and something that everyone seemed okay receiving. The problem was, though, that giving those generic gifts felt hollow and empty to me.
I've always struggled with the idea that Jesus died on the cross for ME, Jenny Wright. I always understood it was a gift that I had been given and it was one for which I was very grateful, but as ashamed as I am to admit it, the gift seemed cheap, universal and just okay. So many people throughout history have been given this same gift, how could Jesus have been giving the gift specifically to me when He was dying on the cross so many years ago? Then I realized why I hadn't been experiencing the joy and love that everyone else around me seemed to have because of Jesus' sacrifice....I had accepted that gift as though it were a generic lotion set, instead of the carefully sought out jewel of a gift that it was. Receiving the "generic lotion set" version of Salvation felt just as hollow and empty as giving a generic lotion set to someone else had felt.
Universality may be the subject of theological debate, but I can guarantee that the gift of Salvation is neither cheap nor generic. It is not just something blindly thrown out there by God for whoever wants a piece to come and take. It instead is a highly personal, precious gift. It is as if God searched high and low for weeks, months or years on end to find nothing less than the perfect gift for you. Not only that, but He treats it in the highest regard, wrapping it in the most precious wrapping He can, the blood of His own Son, and presenting it with eager delight, waiting for us to reach out and accept it. If we view the gift of Salvation as anything less than that, it feels painfully hollow and empty. God wishes to reconcile us as distinct, individual and unique souls to Himself. We were not created as His children in any sort of haphazard fashion. Instead He Himself knitted us together in our mother's womb, waiting for the day when we reach out and accept the gift.