Don’t you love them? Isn’t there something truly delightful in the whole process of giving and receiving gifts?
I have been given many gifts in my life and though they have varied in size and importance I have valued them. I love the little reminders around my home that someone at sometime thought of me. I value the giver and I value that they thought of me as they wrapped a gift intended to bring pleasure and an expression of love. I delight in those gifts. If you have been to my home, you know that knickknacks adorn my shelves and windowsills. Occasionally I de-clutter and put some things away for a while but I cannot bring myself to throw any of them away. There are too many treasured memories attached to them. I still have things on my shelves which I was given as a child and which have become part of the fabric of my home.
I am not such a good gift-giver as gift-receiver. I find it stressful imagining what might bring joy to someone else, usually going for what I know would bring joy to me and hoping that it works for them too. Once the gift is chosen though, I do love wrapping it up and making it beautiful. I want the wrappings, just as much as the contents, to communicate that the recipient is important to me, important enough for the luxury of a pretty bow and a pretty package.
Gifts, the giving and receiving of them, is one of my love languages. It is one way I receive love and communicate love. Unexpected gifts are the very best of all, like an extra “I love you” where I wasn’t looking for it. They take life from good to great and are like a hug for my soul.
Sometimes the gifts we give and the gifts we receive are not great successes. We miss the mark. We experience disappointment, embarrassment and even resentment. As a child I learnt a little phrase, which is simple but wise. “It’s the thought that counts”. It’s not the size or expense of the gift which matters. It is the heart behind it that we need to learn to see and appreciate.
How much more so when it is God’s heart behind the gifts we receive. How much more important it is that I focus on His thoughts towards me as I think about what He has given me.
God’s gifts don’t come in little boxes with pretty bows. Some of His gifts look downright ugly on the outside. Sometimes we don’t even recognize them as gifts. We see them as punishments, or as unanswered prayers and unwanted intruders to our picture-perfect lives and we cast them back in God’s face. And we struggle and strive against them.
One such gift I received from God’s hand, unexpected and unwanted, came in the form of dizziness. It is hard to see it as a gift. It is even harder to accept it.
Yet I read this promise in His Word.
“How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear you, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men.” (Psalm 31:19)
God brings only good gifts out of His storehouse of goodness. How can I learn to see the “bad” things God allows as vehicles of His goodness? How can I learn to look at even my dizziness as the next good thing which God has done for me?
Just as I know that gifts reflect the heart of the Giver, I know that God’s heart is somehow reflected in the things He allows in my life. How much easier it is to see the goodness of His plan in retrospect. How much harder in the moment.
Will I unwrap this “gift” God has given me? Will I see beyond its unattractive wrappings to the treasure within? Will I trust that it will be woven into the tapestry of my life with precision and beauty? Will I trust that I will one day look back and see only God’s goodness and loving-kindness for allowing this trial in my life? Can I trust that one day I will be more than thankful for this time? Because, to be frank, right now it is downright hard to bear.
When I believe that God is interested in my greatest possible good, it becomes easier to accept what He gives. And “acceptance” is the new word on the block for me.
After all isn’t that we are expected to do with gifts? Accept them?
Accepting God’s sovereignty,
Choosing to have a quiet heart,
Counting it as a blessing,
Expecting to see God’s goodness in it,
Praising Him for all that He allows,
Tracing His goodness through my life.
God gives good gifts and displays His loving-kindness over and over in our lives. We tend to see it when we look back on our lives but remain fearful for the future. Whatever situation we face right now, however, fits right in with God’s plan to bring beauty even out of the ashes of our lives.
I want to discover God’s loving-kindness in the unexpected “gifts” in my life, to be able to say with the Psalmist “He has made marvelous His loving-kindness to me in a besieged city.”(Psalm 31:21) . I want to be able to experience even this period of my life as a lavish outpouring of God’s love, a blessing I wouldn’t want to be without. I want to learn to humble myself under the mighty hand of God, to receive all that He gives me for what it is – a gift of love.
“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:24)
Four of my most precious gifts!