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Learning to Take Joy in God's Gifts

Learning to Take Joy in God's Gifts

My oldest son turns sixteen this month.

It’s a monumental birthday. It means a driver’s license. It means new freedoms. It means new responsibilities. It means the onset of adulthood.

We’ve spent the last few months looking for an inexpensive used car that Blake can drive. As a single mom, we are on a very limited budget. The car must be within my limits, and it has to be a vehicle that I can insure on my budget. It also has to fit a child who stands 6’4” tall. And, I would love for it to be a car that a teenager would feel good driving…but that’s just an added bonus, not an essential.

Blake has known that his options are limited. He would love a truck because they have some head room and leg room for someone of his stature. But, trucks are hard to find in our price range. I’ve been so proud of him as he has looked without being picky. He is willing to drive whatever we find. But, we have continually come up empty.

Until now.

This last week I was flipping through classifieds when I saw a 2000 Camaro within our budget. The mileage was acceptable. It appeared to be in good shape. So we decided to see if my gentle giant would fit in the driver’s seat.

After looking at the car, we came home. I asked Blake what he thought, but I couldn’t get him to open up and tell me his true feelings. He wanted me to buy the car that I was comfortable with. And, for some reason, the Camaro was the first car that I was comfortable with. Finally, I decided to make an offer. The seller agreed to my price, and I called Blake to tell him I had just bought him a car.

When we went to pick up the car, I began to see the excitement that had been buried deep within Blake. I don’t think he wanted to let me know how badly he wanted the car because he knew the sacrifice I was making and he didn’t want to pressure me. But, his feelings quickly became obvious.

“Mom,” he began, “where are we going today? Can I drive you in my car?”

“My car. I sure like the sound of that.”

“Mom, can I go to work with you today? I’ll drive you everywhere in my car.”

“Thank you so much, Mom. I love my car.”

I often feel guilty because I can’t do more for my kids. Sometimes it’s a struggle just to put shoes on their feet and clothes on their backs. I want so much more for my kids. I want to be able to give them some of the things their friends have. I want them to have all the best. But, on a single income, it’s simply not possible to do everything.

Blake’s car isn’t new. It has some rough spots on the body. It has 100,000 miles. But it is his. He is so incredibly proud of it, and he simply can’t get enough of it.

And, seeing the smile on Blake’s face, hearing the joy in his voice, has put a smile on my face. When I walk out of the house and see him simply sitting in his car in the garage, learning as much as he can about it, the tears sting my eyes. To know that I was able to find a car that makes him so happy and proud gives me tremendous joy!

As I’ve watched Blake with his car these last few days, I’ve taken great delight in him, in giving him a gift that he absolutely cherishes. And, I’ve found myself contemplating the good gifts our Heavenly Father gives us and how much joy he takes in giving those gifts to us.

So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. - Matthew 7:11 

Have you really stopped recently to think about the gifts that God has so freely lavished on us? He loves to pour out his blessings on his children. He loves to give us the best, those things that will make our lives full and flourishing.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. - Galatians 5:13

July is the month where we celebrate the freedom that is ours here in the United States. We have freedom to worship, freedom to speak our minds, freedom to live our lives without interference from the government.

But as Christians, we have a far greater freedom that God has poured out on us. We have freedom from sins. We have freedom from the death. And we have the freedom to love others.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness - 1 John 1:9

In the last few years, I have truly come to grips with the deceit in my heart, the sin in my life. I am a wretch, unworthy of the grace and mercy lavished on me by my Heavenly Father.

And yet, my Savior came and died to take my sins upon his own body. My Jesus came and became sin so that I might not have to bear the consequences of my sin. My Christ came to forgive me of my sins so that I might experience eternal life with my Creator. How great a gift is forgiveness of sins!

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. - John 10:10

Have you ever tried to live life without God? I must say that I spent a short period of my life running from God, choosing to live life my way. Those months were filled with empty grabs for joy and happiness.

It’s only in walking intimately with our Savior that we truly experience a full and satisfying life! Look at King Solomon, the wisest man who ever walked the earth! After trying to find fulfillment in everything other than God, he finally reached the conclusion, “Everything is meaningless,” (Ecclesiastes 1:3). When we abide in Christ, seek his face daily, he gives us passion and purpose. He makes this life full and satisfying as only he can.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. - 1 John 4:9-10

We all long to love and be loved. We were created to live in fellowship, to live our lives in relationship with others. But in this world, where sin and self-centeredness abound, we often find ourselves seeking love in all the wrong places.

You see, our Heavenly Father is the source of all true, unconditional love. Even when we were steeped in sin, mired in muck, living for ourselves, he loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for our sins. As Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” He didn’t wait until we were cleaned up and living his way; even while we were still trampling his name, living our own way, he loved us. Perfectly. Unconditionally. Sacrificially. Now that is true love.

And there are so many more gifts the Father has lavished on us, gifts such as eternal life, grace, mercy. He has given us the gift of prayer, the opportunity to approach his throne of grace with confidence knowing that we will receive what we ask. He has offered us the peace that surpasses all understanding when we focus our hearts and minds on him. I could go on and on about the beauty of a life lived in fellowship with our Savior. His gifts are endless!

And then I find myself wondering how I receive those gifts. If Blake had received his car and then not delighted in it, if he had received it with an entitlement mentality, I would not have found nearly as much joy in giving it to him. And yet, how many of us fail to delight in the good gifts the Father has given us? How many of us simply take for granted his generosity that lavishes us with good gifts?

I find myself stopping today, simply wanting to delight in the good gifts the Father has given me. I want to sit in his presence, taking in the priceless gifts that have been poured out upon me. I want to bring a smile to my Father’s face as I take the time to stop and express my gratitude for the amazing life he has given me.

What good gifts he gives us!

*Published 7/13/2015