Sunday, February 14, 2010

Year of the Gift

A few years ago, I read on Pastor Jeff Leake's blog about the spiritual practice of naming your year. It's a prayerful practice that I've been doing each January, asking God what would He like me to remember, to focus on, and to stand on through the upcoming year. I went back and found my post from 2007, the year when God's word to me was, "Imagine." What a fulfillment of Eph. 3:20 He chose to reveal! Meeting Brad and all the new changes that came with it truly were more than I could imagine.

This year, as I've been praying, I again felt that God gave me a word and a verse for 2010. It is "The Year of the Gift," and the verses that went along with it were again from Ephesians. Eph. 2:8-9. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast." When God first laid this on my heart, I must confess that I wondered, "What does that mean?" but the more that I've prayed and thought about it, the more I think He continues to reveal.

I first thought about the whole idea of a gift. I love gifts. I love finding just the right gift for someone and I love the excitement of receiving a surprise that someone picked out to give me. But when you really think about it, receiving a gift is an exercise of trust. The receiver of the gift is trusting that the giver of the gift knows them, knows what they like, and wants to give them something that they like. We don't really think about this when we open the gift. We usually just open it and think one of three things:
  • "Wow! This is EXACTLY what I wanted! I am so excited and can't wait to use it!"
  • "Okay . . . I'm not really sure what to do with this. I wouldn't have chosen it, but I guess that I like it???"
  • "Oh dear. I hope there's a gift receipt."
I have experienced all these instances, but usually, the closer the gift giver is in relationship to me, the more likely they are to give a gift in the first category. If it's not in the first category, I really have to stop and reconsider my initial assessment of the gift.

I remember on one particular Easter Egg Hunt when I was little, we followed a clue that my parents had given and we found a small pile of presents along with a butter knife on top. We were excited about the presents, but perplexed about the knife. Figuring it must've been a weird mistake, we grabbed the presents, left the knife there, and moved on to follow the next clue.

When we got to the next clue, we realized the presents were inside this older china closet that had lost it's handle. The only way to open it was to slide a butter knife along the door and open the latch that way. My parents knew what we needed and wanted better than we did, and we would've been smart to trust them, and take ALL the gifts with us, rather than just the ones we wanted.

When I think about the gifts that God gives, I realize that it once again often comes down to an issue of trust. I've received gifts from God that were EXACTLY what I wanted (i.e. Brad!). I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and I can't thank God enough. I've received gifts that I never thought I wanted (i.e. pain, patience, and humility), and initially I want to take these gifts back. And I've received gifts that I would have never chosen or been certain what to do with them, but chose to receive them and use them and later found out that they were exactly what I wanted (i.e. God's timing, a job, etc.).

When I think about 2010, I can already recognize several "gifts" that have been surprises to open. A year ago, I would have never dreamed about going to Philadelphia and that gift alone has brought with it feelings of "Oh, I love this so much!" and "Can I take this back?" :-) In the midst of it all, however, I'm choosing to trust my gift Giver, and choosing to believe that He knows what's best more than I do. And, as His Word says, all of these gifts are simply an outpouring of His grace. I don't deserve ANY of them, and I'm so grateful for all of them, even the ones I wouldn't have initially chosen.

I can't imagine what gifts 2010 will bring, but I thank God in advance for them, and choose to receive ALL of them, trusting He is Good.

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