Have you ever received a gift that you were less than excited about? Little kids are masters at being painfully honest, especially when it comes to gifts. My nephew was five years old when he sat down to open his stocking plump with presents. As he reached in and his fingers grasped the first gift you could see the anticipation building in his eyes. He pulled at the paper and exposed the gift beneath—a small snack box of raisins. Now you may think that he was disappointed. But you would be wrong. You see, he loves raisins and this would be his own box to enjoy later–perhaps, after opening the rest of his little gifts. In to the stocking he reached again, pulling out another small box similar to the first. Ripping the paper with excitement, he found once again, a box of raisins. The gleam in his eyes was not as bright as before but he set off once again to discover what lay beneath the paper of the remaining boxes. In he reached for the third box, again strangely similar to the first two. And as you may have already guessed, once again, as the wrapping was pealed away so was the excitement in his eyes as again he found a box of raisins. At last he could not hold back his disappointment, “more raisins? Bummer,” he sighed. My husband and I fought to conceal our smiles as our nephew’s hopes of some grand gift had been reduced to shriveled grapes.
This story still brings a smile to my face, perhaps, because I can relate to my nephews dilemma. It’s not that he didn’t like his gifts. It’s just that he was looking for a little variety and perhaps something not so, well, practical. I have been known to react the same way toward God. He knows exactly what I need and also what I want. On his list of priorities, my needs are right there at the top. While my wants usually find their appropriate places farther on down the list. Now I am not saying that God does not provide the things that I want. But do you ever notice how it is not usually on the same timetable that you had in mind? And unfortunately, because my wants usually preoccupy my thoughts, I often forget to focus on my needs. Things like forgiveness and grace and unconditional love–things that God supplies freely and on a regular basis. Pretty soon, I am my nephew, sitting with the gleam all but gone from my eyes as my Heavenly Father continues to heap his blessings in my lap. There is one considerable difference in this comparison. The giver of the raisins may have felt some slight rejection, as her gift was not appreciated. However, each time I do not recognize the cost of my gift, how deeply this must hurt my Heavenly Father. For he gave his only son–he held back nothing, his flesh, his beloved, his pride and joy, for us! His son died so I can live. I must then choose how I will live, with gratitude or grumbling. I may not get all the things on my list this year. But I have already received the gift that never fades. My gift and your gift has a eternal guarantee—slightly better than shriveled grapes, wouldn’t you agree?