A Breath of Fresh Air
A Merry Heart
A Woman's World
A Word in Season
Acting Up
Cyber Walk
Faith Seekers
Golden Apples
Heaven Bound
Just Between Men
Take it to Heart
Teen Truth
The Parents'
Survival Guide

The Treehouse
'Tis the Season
The Joy of Family
The Rhythm of Life
We Are the Church

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TeensA Diamond in the Rough
By Lynda Schab

Chris stood back and admired his work. It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad if he did say so himself. There were a couple of gaps here and there, but overall, his first attempt at wrapping a present turned out pretty well. Frosty the Snowman, adorned in red and green foil, smiled at him, signaling his approval.

"Not bad for my first time, eh, Frosty?" Chris said, straightening the bow.

"Are you sure about this, Chris?" Ken asked from behind him. "You haven't witnessed Wendy's ‘multiple personalities’. Chances are you will tonight. She may not find this as funny as you do."

Chris glanced over his shoulder. "Quit worrying, Ken. I know your sister. I guess if I didn't, I wouldn't be giving her this, would I?" Chris gestured toward the package on the table.

"I guess not," Ken said. "But don't say I didn't warn you."

* * *

"So what did you think about Pastor Tom's message tonight?" Amy asked. Without waiting for a response, she bubbled on. "I thought it was awesome! I mean, I never thought of Jesus being a diamond in the rough, did you? There is this little baby, born in a stinky stable, yuckiness all around. But yet that didn't take away from His royalty, you know? To the average person he looked like a normal baby, probably crying his lungs out and everything. But He was different…"

Her voice trailed off. It was obvious to Chris that she was lost in thought about the Youth Pastor's message.

"I think it was very fitting for this time of year," Chris said.

Amy wrinkled her nose. "That's it? Fitting? Wow, you sure have a way with words." She laughed. "No wonder Wendy fell in love with you."

Chris turned his attention toward his girlfriend. "So what did you think?"

Although Wendy was a Christian, sometimes their views differed. She had a unique, almost rebellious, way of looking at things and Chris had to admit, that's part of why he was first attracted to her. There was no question that Wendy was a challenge. And he loved a challenge! Since they met one year ago, they had debated biblical issues several times, including on their very first date! Wendy always ended up relenting and apologizing for being so argumentative. She definitely had a stubborn streak and seemed to get off on a good fight. He wondered what her thoughts would be about the things their pastor said tonight.

"I don't know." Wendy said slowly. "Don't you think it would have made more sense for Jesus to be born in a fancy Inn, with a grand announcement or something? I don't see the point of Him being born so lowly. If God wanted people to believe that Jesus was His son, why didn't He deliver Him with a crown on His head and silver booties on his feet? I think He should have come with a bang! Didn't He deserve more than to be born with the animals?"

"Maybe God wants to teach us that we need to look in less obvious places to see Jesus. It's not the outward package, but what's on the inside that truly matters," Amy said.

"I still don't get it. Personally, I can understand why so many people back then didn't believe He was really a king. I probably wouldn't have either." Wendy shook her head. "But enough about that. Didn't you say I would get my Christmas present tonight?" she batted her eyes at Chris. He smiled, but for some reason, he didn't feel as happy as he looked.

* * *

"So is this for me?" Wendy asked. Chris saw just a hint of confusion on her face.

"Yep. I hope you like it. I wrapped it myself."

Wendy tore the paper apart. She threw the wrap on the floor and looked at the box.

"This isn't what it really is, right? There's something else inside?"

"You said you wanted a toaster," said Chris.

"No, I said I NEEDED a toaster. There's a difference. Anyway, boyfriends don't get things like toasters. They get other stuff."

"Like what?" Chris feigned ignorance and Wendy was buying it.

"Like … ANYTHING! Other than a toaster!" Wendy looked like she was about to cry. Her face turned red, rivaling her hair. Chris thought about what Ken had said earlier about Wendy's multiple personalities. His comment had only been a joke, but she sure seemed to be turning into someone else before his eyes.

"This is, like, the most UNromantic thing I've ever heard of! A toaster? Did you really think I wanted a TOASTER from you?" Chris stared at her and was positive he saw steam wafting out of her ears. "You are such a loser! I can't believe I actually thought…" her rant suddenly ceased, she shoved the toaster into Chris's chest and put dents in the floor with her shoes as she stormed out.

Chris set the box on the table and opened it. He pulled out the wide-sliced toaster. Everything was still intact. The button had been pushed down, as if bread was browning inside. He gently pulled up the switch and a tiny box appeared, wrapped in plain gold paper. He removed the wrap, opened the box and held the ring up to the light. The diamond sparkled magnificently.

If Wendy had taken a moment to look inside – just one moment – she would have found what she'd been looking for. Instead, she made a judgment based on what she saw on the outside. Because of it, she missed out. And their future was changed forever.

The ring would be returned to the jewelry store. Chris was disappointed but he knew that getting married wouldn't be the right thing to do. He had hoped Ken would be wrong about his sister, and Wendy would be a better sport about the gift. He had known that once she saw what was inside, the outer packaging wouldn't seem so significant.

Like their pastor had said, Jesus had been a diamond in the rough. He was the most precious gift wrapped up in less-than-perfect packaging. But the packaging didn't make the gift any less special. He hoped Wendy learned how to look for diamonds in the rough. Little pieces of wisdom in overwhelming circumstances. Touches of goodness in ordinary, imperfect people. Laughter in the midst of pain. Faith in impossible situations.

Unfortunately, Wendy missed out on the diamond in the toaster. Chris prayed she ended up discovering the most precious gift of all: The King in a dirty stable – the one true diamond in the rough.

Lynda Schab
Copyright 2004
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