My birthday and the conclusion of this whirlwind of holidays has me thinking about gifts.
On Christmas Eve, my family finally revealed all the hard work of the previous few weeks in surprising one another with the most thoughtful possible gifts possible. From much needed electronics to an antique ink well to very stylish, and useful, clothing, to money to go toward something I can’t afford to buy for myself, to the latest Veggie Tales DVD, for my collection, I feel like everyone in my family went out of their way to pause and think about not just my wants and needs, but things I hadn’t even thought to want yet, but now adore.
It reminds me of when Jesus said: “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 good things to those who ask Him!”— Matthew 7:11
And yet, I’ve spent the last year pretty angry with the Father who delights in giving good gifts to me. God asked me to do some things this year that I didn’t want to do. I’ve done them with an outward smile, but I’ve fought him tooth and nail the whole way. I could hear him asking me to surrender. To wait for better things to come. And I tried to do both of those things, but it always comes back around to me taking back the control of my life that seems to not be going very well (according to my standards) right now. I came to assume that God wants me miserable, wants me in the place of suffering in order to help the others I’m in a position to touch right now. Needless to say this assumption did nothing for my trust in God.
A number of things have happened in the last couple months to bring me back to Him, not the least of which was three weeks ago, when I stepped out on faith to get permission to do something I love but might conflict with my work. I said a cursory prayer when I sat down to write the email, but I think in my heart, I believed the answer would be no. God wanted me to suffer a bit more first.
I can tell because of the way my heart jumped in shock when the yes came back, instead.
And that got me to thinking. A very dear friend once told me about the way God had been showing Himself to her through gift giving. Bringing her into the path of multiple pieces of furniture that matched her style and loves within days of each other for a really low price just as she was needing to restock her furnishings.
She said she’d asked Him to show His goodness through good gifts, and because I trust her judgement a great deal, I thought it might not be wrong to ask for the same thing. In the last two weeks, I’ve seen an outpouring of gifts in the form of enormous encouragement. People I work with outside of my company have called or emailed in record numbers to say they like my work, someone else complimented my personality on the phone, a friend from church came alongside and said he understood some of my tough times lately and encouraged me to stick with it, and, my favorite gift, a friend honored me for doing what God has asked me to do this year, even though it’s hard.
Needless to say, my conversations with God have been blossoming over all of this. He does seem to give good gifts after all. I’m not sure what to make of this dramatic change to my thinking. Not able to hold onto it consistently. But every time I get discouraged and turn back to God to ask why, and what now, He seems to look at me and say… “follow me, trust me.”
That’s scary, because He’s asking for blind trust, and He really means it. There’s NO peeking around the blindfold on this one to know what’s coming next. But would this God who gives such really good, but admittedly trivial, gifts to me, His daughter, really plan the bigger picture to make her miserable?
At the present moment, that idea brings up more doubts than following with the blindfold on.
I’ll close with a repost a friend put up on Facebook for the New Year:
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied:
‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”
-Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908