I get a lot of raised eyebrows when people find this out about me. No, this does not mean that I only feel loved when I’m being showered with material possessions; however, I won’t stop you from doing just that (haha KIDDING). What it really boils down to for me is the intentionality behind gifts. You really have to know someone to know what to get them for a gift: their passions, their hobbies, their quirks, the things they love, etc. So the truth is, the gift doesn’t matter as much for me – it’s the heart that is behind it. The fact that someone went out of their way, took time out of their day, and thought about what I might like/what would make me smile makes me turn into MUSH. Literally someone could give me a piece of trash they found off the ground because of some inside joke or dumb reason and I would die.
Growing up, my mom would always throw me the best birthday parties too. We’re talking themes, matching wrapping paper, and extravagant agendas in addition to spoiling me with the best presents. So it only makes sense that gifts are one my love languages. So something really cool happened when I started looking at the Lord as The Giver of gifts.
There is this girl who loves Disney. She has all the Mickey Mouse attire that one could possibly need and knows every soundtrack from every movie by heart. Her dream is to go to Disney World and for years, she has been begging her parents to go. Her birthday is coming up and she really thinks this will be the year. It was the only thing she asked from her parents and she has offered to do more chores, be better behaved, and get all As in school. She is on her best behavior as the day approaches and…. nothing. She rips through the packaging of all the gifts, looking for some sort of clue of a surprise. All she sees in every thoughtful gift from her parents is that it is not what she wanted; no Disney World. She throws a tantrum. Questioning her parents love for her; questioning whether they know her at all; reminding them that she did all those things so that she would deserve it; questioning their character as she stands in the paper cast aside from disregarded presents. What she doesn’t know during this whole scene is that her parents did not get her tickets to Disney World for her birthday because they had something even better in store: VIP tickets during Christmas (her favorite time of year) to see her favorite performance.
I feel like most of the time, we don’t see the Lord as The Gift Giver. Rather, we see the things that we feel that he is withholding from us. I can at least speak for myself and say that when I pray for something I really want (and tell the Lord that He should want that for me too, haha), and it doesn’t happen, I become like that little girl. I become so fixated on that one thing and my own justification of why I should have it, that I miss everything else that the Lord is doing. Not only do I miss the gifts that the Lord is currently surrounding me with, I question his character. After all, I’ve reminded Him time and time again why He should give me this thing, and the fact that He hasn’t means that He doesn’t know my heart and what’s best for me.
OUCH. It hurts to type these thoughts out, but that’s honestly what we think of God when He doesn’t operate like a vending machine. We reason with him, we give him our five page business plan of why this thing would be best, of how it would bring Him glory. And what is He doing in the midst of all our complaining and fixation on desires that become idols in our life? He continues to bless us and surround us with gifts. Gifts that we didn’t ask for and don’t deserve. And what do we do when He does this? We miss them. We miss them because they are not that one thing that we’ve been bargaining for, and we ask God why He doesn’t love us enough.
I fell to my knees when I realized that this is how I had been approaching the Lord. My heart broke when He made me aware of His goodness and the gifts that surrounded me in the midst of my tantrum. And suddenly I realized that He is the source of every gift in my life. The Lord loves to give us gifts. In fact, there is a lot of language used regarding gifts from God. The one that comes to my mind is in James:
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.James 1:17, NIV