In today's devotional I talk about gifts and in preparation for this post I've been thinking about them. For some people, including my 10 year old daughter, gifts are their love language. These people feel love when someone gives something to them. They are the ones counting down the days to Christmas and are often found giving gifts to others. I'll admit, that's not me. I struggle knowing what to buy and often wonder what the receiver will think.
Thinking about gifts has helped me realize I don't just have a hard time with the giving, but receiving is a challenge for me as well. I can clearly remember one Christmas as a teen...we'd opened all our gifts and I felt bad. Not because I didn't get what I wanted, but instead because I felt like I didn't deserve all I'd been given. That statement alone gives you a glimpse of my works mentality...for years I've lived with the mindset that I have to earn what I get. (In case my kids read this...often in life that is what we need to do!)
We must be responsible and diligent, but when it comes to God we must remember He is giving, generous and good. Here's just a glimpse -
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." James 1:17
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good...." 1 Corinthians 12:7
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace..." 1 Peter 4:10
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23
As Job, the man in the Bible, says, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away." My husband, also known as Job, has quoted this verse to me before and I think it's natural to struggle when God does the latter and I've done that plenty, but today I'm convicted of something else. God has given me much...my salvation, my faith, His grace, my family, opportunities, friendships, the list could go on. I think I truly appreciate all He's given, but I'm not sure I completely receive it.
Think with me for a minute, "What does it mean to receive?" According to Webster it means to acquire, believe, welcome, bear and experience. Think about all God has to offer - love, forgiveness, peace, His Spirit, again the list goes on; He wants to and is giving us ALL we need, but we have to receive it. I can give my husband love, but he has to receive it. I can give my kids instruction, but they have to choose to learn from it. I can give my neighbors a meal, but they have to eat it. God will provide for our every need, but we have to go to Him with open arms, ears, eyes and hearts to receive it.
Once we receive it we have to use it, apply it, believe it and experience it. At the same time we, well I, but if it's a struggle for you, join me in getting past the thinking that we have to earn it and move past the feelings of "I don't deserve it." God was showing me this awhile back when I was wrestling with some connections He has created and blessed me with...I was feeling very undeserving and found myself asking God a question I've asked before, "Who am I...that You bless me with this?" Again, He responded with the same answer, "No Jill, WHO am I?"
Oh friend, I've been reminded that God is so much bigger than the God I continue to learn about and grow closer to. He is powerful, loving and gracious. He is giving, present and faithful. He is holy, just and wise. And He is sovereign. I pray we would all grow to know Him better, long to serve Him more and fully receive all He has to offer.
As we grow in our faith may we experience what Lucy from the Narnia series did -