“Dad,” my son yelled with excitement, “we should go back tomorrow and see if we have any more boxes!”
“THE BOXES!” I spun around to where we had been dropped off by the taxi. He wasn’t there. He had driven away when he dropped us off, and that was five minutes ago, before I had gone into the bank. He was long gone. I turned back to my son, “I forgot the boxes in the taxi!” The joy in his face drained and his head dropped.
All our gifts from America were suddenly and completely gone. Christmas was ruined.
Judah ran ahead to tell mom and I stayed back, calling whomever I that might be able to help track down a single taxi in a city of millions.
“Did you save your fapio (receipt)?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Cause if you did, then we could track him down that way.”
“I know, but I didn’t. I didn’t think about it.”
“You should always save your fapios.”
“I know, but I didn’t.”
I wasn’t getting far, so made another call. Hoping.
“Did you see which company it was?”
“It was one of the green taxis.”
“I know, but there are over fifteen different companies that drive them, did you see which one you were in?”
“I thought they were all the same company?”
“Nope. Which is why you need to save your fapio so we know which company to call.”
“I know, but I didn’t. What now?”
“Nothing really. We just have to hope he’ll turn in the boxes and then later tonight I can call the major taxi company and hope it’s the right one.”
“That’s it. Sorry man.”
I hung up the phone and opened the front door. The Christmas tree shone in the corner, the stockings hung nearby, and Christmas music was playing. Josey was making dinner for some friends. Tears were on her cheeks.
An hour later, I sat in my office trying to think of what to do, how I could save Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season kept running through my mind like a bad Christmas carol, but it wasn’t comforting because Jesus brought a gift, himself! But we had none! And I could do nothing about it. Nothing. I couldn’t believe I had ruined Christmas.
Josey tried to encourage and to help. She called a friend.
“Is there any chance we get it back?”
“Did he keep his fapio?”
“No, he forgot.”
“He should always keep the fapio and never sit in the front seat because then the taxi driver can get his hands on you if there’s a problem.”
“So, you don’t think the driver will turn it in?”
“Probably not. What would be the benefit for him? If he keeps it, he gets all the stuff and no one will know. It happens all the time.”
The fate of our Christmas was now in the hands of a taxi driver, and we didn’t hold much hope. Christmas, more than likely, was ruined.
Our friends arrived and they prayed for us. They prayed for the taxi driver’s heart. Then, we ate, made hot chocolate, and made Christmas wreaths. We tried to move on, but the boxes were constantly in our thoughts and quickly on our lips. The meaning of Christmas was knocking on the door, but we were too distracted to hear it.
Whether one believes in Jesus as the Son of God and savior of all or simply as a man that lived many years ago doesn’t change the fact that He is the reason for the season. Without Jesus, there wouldn’t be a virgin birth, a star, wise men or gifts. There wouldn’t be Christmas. But more than trees, stockings, and candle lit carols, because of Jesus and the life he lived, there wouldn’t be humility.
John Dickson defines humility as, “the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself,” and before Christ was born the virtue of humility did not exist. Ancient Mediterranean societies (Egyptian, Greek, and Roman) ruled the known world through an honor-shame culture and with one goal in mind: personal glory. They did not look inwards to understand themselves and goodness, but to others; it was the opinion of their surrounding society that dictated their identity and their status. Glory and honor were rungs on the social ladder; shame was the slippery slope of failure.
Ancient Mediterranean cultures, according to Dickson, “pursued honor and avoided shame at all costs. Honor was the proof of merit, shame the proof of worthlessness.” Which is why the cross was so hard to bear, to understand, because it was a symbol of great shame. Jesus, through His life and death, flipped the social structure and redefined the notion of “greatness” and revolutionized the world. “Within three decades,” Dickson writes, “Jesus’ first followers went from seeing Him as teacher and prophet to singing hymns to him as God incarnate.” Thus began the humility revolution and the notion that “each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of other” – an ideological stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to ancient Mediterranean cultures.
Through Christ, humility entered the world, and through humility, a taxi cab driver saved Christmas.
While watching Elf with our friends, a text came from one of the friends I had called earlier for help. The boxes were at our school.
“What happened?” I asked, trying not to scream with childlike Christmas giddiness.
“The driver found your packages in the trunk and drove them back to the school.”
“That. Is. Awesome!”
“Yep. They’re both here. Merry Christmas brother!”
A picture of the picture taken from the guard’s iPhone
I found out later that the cab driver didmuch more than simply return the packages to their address. He had to first find someone to translate the English into Chinese, then, because the translation was inaccurate, he had to drive around for almost three hours before finding the school. And he did it on his own dime and for no reward. When the guards at the school tried to get his contact information, he refused. Only after much hounding and pleading did he concede to a simple photograph. He wouldn’t even leave his name.
Because of a taxi driver, because of Christ, and because of humility, Christmas was saved. Jesus is the reason for the season.
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
All our gifts from America were suddenly and completely present. Christmas was saved. Because of Humility.
Thank you Jesus.