I just celebrated another year of living totaling 48 and I am sitting down to write my thank you cards:

Dear ______,

Thank you for the wonderful birthday gift. It is just what I wanted/needed.  I appreciate the thought and time that you put into choosing exactly what I can use and enjoy….

I am old enough to remember shopping for gifts without online wishlists or emailed desires. It was fun to think about the person and anticipate their reaction when they opened it. Shopping was part of the whole gift-giving experience. I imagined them using it, hoped they would treasure it, and even wondered ‘When they use this, will they think about me’?

It seems to me that shopping for that right gift has lost its personal touch now that the gift-er is basically told what to give or even worse, expected to hand over the most impersonal item ever: a Gift Card. We no longer cherish most of these gifts because we choose them ourselves, personal intention and thoughtful procuring have been lost. We often send God our Spiritual Gift Wish List as well.

In reading 1 Corinthians 12: 11 we learn that “All these [gifts] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”

As “he” determines. Not “we.” God knows which gift we will best use. He gives them to us to cherish, and we can cherish them because we did not tell God what to give us.

“Christians understand the spiritual gifts to be enablements or capacities that are divinely bestowed upon individuals. Because they are freely given by God, these cannot be earned or merited”.(Wikipedia, Spiritual Gifts)

My children shopped for me independently; their dad did not help them pick out the birthday gifts they gave me. They were so eager for me to open them.  I loved watching them observe me open the gifts they gave.  Gifts I cherish because they were eagerly bestowed on me, not dutifully checked off an impersonal wishlist.

I can’t imagine opening a gift, looking at it from all angles, heaving a deep sigh, putting it back in the packaging, and saying “Well, I guess I can try to use it. I was really hoping for the gift that you gave …….”. You can put in the name of whom you compare yourself to. Even the thought of doing that to my kids makes my stomach turn, yet we have no problem doing this to our heavenly Father.

We envy what He’s given someone else, believing that by our merit we deserve their gift. Then, after placing our own spiritual gift back into its box, we continue striving for the coveted gift that was never ours in the first place.

How I wish I had realized this earlier in life. I wish I had seen the gifts that God had given just to me!  He waited for me to finally re-open that gift He’d already given me and use it to glorify Him, to cherish it as exactly what I need. When I finally recognized His gift to me as a true treasure, I know He had the same thrill in His heart as my kids did when I held their gifts up to my heart and told them, “This is perfect!”

September 2016

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