When I get a gift, I get distracted by the look of it — the colors, patterns, shine, and the ribbon handles. It’s just so pretty, so fun. And so I linger.
Soon, someone is saying: “Just open it!”
And I tend to collect those gift bags.
I stash them away, and I keep them so long. When an occasion presents itself, I pull them all out and look them all over. I wonder when and if the clutter will prove useful.
The difficulties of 2018 were gift bags for me. No, not so pretty, not so fun. But still I linger.
The look of things has been so distracting. My memories are colored by every disappointing circumstance. My mind has grown weary as the pattern of troubles has extended, becoming repeating and increasing trials. My energy has dimmed, and I’ve fumbled in trying to handle so much of what came my way.
I stash it away; who wants to hear about all that? And I wonder how any of this will prove useful.
But then I wonder: Am I forgetting to pull out the gifts that those circumstances brought?
Having more than I could handle in each day, means that I’ve received a daily delivery — primed awareness of God’s sovereignty. When I could not take another step forward, I’ve paused long enough to speak and cry out to God. What I could not lift, I handed over.
When I had so many overwhelming tasks, God reminded me to let Him overwhelm me more: His love, His faithfulness, His might, His wisdom, His ways.
I love to celebrate the small gift, like the Christmas card I got from a student who actually wrote a personal message. And I have to remember to share the huge gifts: my receipt of God’s omnipotent Presence, and His loving personal message for each day. I receive them in prayer, as I drive down the street; in opening my Bible, as I unwrap God’s promises tagged just for me; in praise, as my wail of frustration becomes a hymn pouring out my heart.
My abundant need has been met by these abundant gifts, and I need to put them to use, telling everyone I know how good God has been to me — how He’s been so good. I need to keep my gifts on display, because their beauty outshines their packaging.
My gift bags have a corner; they don’t need ongoing inspection. When it’s useful, I can speak to someone’s circumstances, to their baggage, because I can share the gift I’ve received. I’ve been encouraged to encourage; I’ve been strengthened to strengthen.
When I submit to God’s will that we do so daily — slowing down long enough for a smile, a word of praise — I can’t always track how the Holy Spirit delivers that comfort. I don’t know how it will be received.
But I do know that every good and perfect gift comes from God. I don’t want to overlook anything God sends my way, and I pray for God to clear the clutter.