May 3, 2010
Gifts from Above
Sarah Jennings, Crosswalk.com Family Editor
"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7: 11
Have you ever had one of those rare moments in life where events play out just as you imagined them? You know, where all you hope for actually happens? About a month ago I had one of those moments. My boyfriend of two-and-a-half years asked me to marry him. At age 29, I've waited a little longer than some of my peers for marriage, and at times I thought it would never happen. So this recent development is a sweet one!
Then, a couple Sunday's ago, my fiance's family met my mom's side of the family. When you date a man for a couple years, you may imagine this day a few times. Such daydreams usually start right after the first time you sign your first name with his last name to make sure it doesn't sound like a mean joke.
So, about week three or so in our dating relationship, I began imagining that glorious day when his family would meet my family. Of course, in my dreams they just loved each other and couldn't hold back their excitement over our future together. Conversation flowed, laughter was plentiful, and the night went just a little longer than expected because, you know, nobody wants to leave.
And that's pretty much how things really went.
Even some of my seemingly "reasonable" concerns didn't materialize. For example, my stepfather is, shall we say, a mountain man. He could probably live in the woods for months on end, completely self-sufficient. So the thought crossed my mind, "What on earth will my nature-loving stepfather talk about with my fiance's suburban parents?" Silly me forgot that his father grew up on a farm. He's no stranger to rural living. And besides, what man wouldn't be excited over my stepfather's extensive tool collection?
Why was I worried again?
Do you ever do that? Create worry for yourself? I think sometimes we get especially talented at this when we've gone through an extended trial. We experience enough sadness, and we start to expect life to just be one disappointment after another. We think the good life must be ordained for someone else. We even begin to doubt blessings staring us square in the face. I can usually tell my personal volcanic ash cloud of doom has gotten too thick and dark when my voice starts to resemble Winnie the Pooh's friend Eeyore.
I have to be honest, being engaged is an exercise in learning to accept blessings with gratitude and without questioning. Yes, this is a skill I am actually having to learn and improve on.
My challenge to unreservedly embrace blessings from above reminds me of my earthly relationship with my father. My dad likes to give gifts to his daughters. It's one of his ways of expressing love for us. I used to be uncomfortable receiving gifts from my dad. I felt like maybe he would be better off spending the money on something practical instead of lavishing me with beautiful things.
It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized my perspective that Dad should "keep his money" robbed him of the joy that comes with showing love through gift-giving! He really wanted to do these things for his kids.
I think this applies to our Heavenly Father on an even grander scale. In the opening scripture, Jesus assures us of God's desire to give us good gifts and asks believers to trust. Pretty amazing - our holy God wants to bless us, not just dole out discipline and hard lessons. He desires us to receive his goodness, his blessings, and love with faith and excitement.
This is really good news for us "Debbie Downers." I love being Christian, but let me just say, there have been times when my melancholy nature has gone haywire thanks to the occasional well-meaning believer telling me that God's plan for me was to live in perpetual Lent for the next 80 years; to basically just expect suffering and nothing else and be thankful for the sanctifying graces.
It's thrilling to watch the clouds part and reveal that God really does have gifts waiting for us - and it's okay to receive them.
"For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude..." 1 Timothy 4: 4
Intersecting Faith & Life: What gifts has God given you?