Published by Good Book Company on September 1, 2019
Genres: Non-Fiction, Devotional
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Nothing beats the feeling of giving, or receiving, the perfect gift. The most meaningful gifts we receive make us feel known, loved and valued. And when we give a gift like that, it's like we're putting ourselves into our present. And at Christmas, that's exactly what God did.
This light-hearted and lively book explores how our gift-giving traditions show us a glimpse of a giving God. Evangelist Glen Scrivener helps readers to celebrate the gift of life in a world brimming with beauty, before taking us to John 3:16 to unwrap the Christmas gift that can give us what we've always wanted, and what we really need.
Advent is a time of thoughtfulness, reflection, and renewal. It’s also a crazy and stressful time of travel, extended family, financial burdens, and every performance/recital/concert known to man. (Oh, and finals, if you’re still in any form of schooling.)
It can be difficult to remember and practice the former because of the latter. Often, because we have not disciplined or structured ourselves properly, we are not able to enjoy Advent as we should. With his small book, The Gift, Glen Scrivener provides readers some small amount of structure to tuck ourselves away just for a few minutes every week and rest in the beauty of Advent.
The Gift follows the four weeks of Advent, but takes them out of their traditional structure to provide for us the four steps of giving and receiving:
- “It’s for you!”
- “You shouldn’t have.”
- “I wanted to.”
- “Thank you!”
Each devotional is simple and short, meant to be read in fewer than ten minutes. When I say this is a small book, I mean that it’s the size of my hand and right at fifty pages. Easy to tuck away in a pocket or a purse for whenever you need a breather from the hustle and bustle of the season.
It’s for You!
This first week simply focuses on the gift of life—not just physical life, but the abundant spiritual life that God gives, along with the talents and uniqueness that he has created each one of us with. Scrivener reminds us of the Fatherhood of God and the joy and love that he brings.
You Shouldn’t Have
The second week flips the script and follows the worst of our Christmas impulses. Usually we use the phrase “You shouldn’t have!” as a nicety or politeness, but Scrivener employs the phrase to talk about out sinfulness and shortcomings and the human condition. It’s a bit of a twist to the overarching metaphor he’s created—it doesn’t quite fit the construct—but it is a great reminder that we often forget to receive God’s good gifts. We feel empty by ourselves and try to use others to fill us up rather than receiving all of God’s fulness.
I Wanted To
Week three is a conversation about the overwhelming love of God who, when nobody was seeking after him or crying out for salvation, took it upon himself to be the initiator and completer of salvation. We aren’t worthy! we cry. I know, he responds, But I wanted to. Scrivener reminds readers that your salvation is God’s choice. He wants to give that gift to you, if only you’ll allow him.
The final week is about our response to this great salvation that God has offered. God has given us this gift of life to enjoy and live and love and give and serve. We say our thank yous to the creator in our service and worship of him.
The book’s epilogue references a short film called The Coming which brings to life some of the theme in the book. While it’s a very well done film—the poem is incredible and the visuals even more so—it doesn’t really fit the structure of the book in a way that makes it directly applicable to the devotional. These were obviously two disparate projects, each well-done, but I’m a bit confused by the attempt to connect them together.
Overall, this book is nice. The Gift doesn’t really say anything extraordinary or new or particularly revelatory. It’s a good Advent book, but there are lots of those. Had the video element had a strong connection to the book, that would have been the hook to really make this title stand out.
As is, I think this would have worked just as well as a series of blog posts or some other online format. This review is probably already 10% of the book’s length, if not more. The upside is that the publisher does recognize this and prices it as such, for only $3.39 each with discounts for buying in bulk. This would make a great stocking stuffer or add-on gift for the Christmas season.