Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Unexpected gifts

On their 30th wedding anniversary, my friend's husband took her to a beautifully restored historical stone house and told her it was hers if she wanted it. It is her dream house. She is overwhelmed by her husband's generosity and love for her. She's experiencing God's love as well, as she said Ephesians 3:20 came to mind. " him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." What a wonderful gift for my friend right at Christmas! Since Fred is their realtor,what a Christmas gift for us too.

We attended an interactive Christmas program at this same couple's church. Children were invited to participate in re-creating the nativity story, and volunteers were requested for the various roles. My girls were a little too shy to participate in a new church, but my friend's daughter very much wanted to be Mary in the play and waved her hand enthusiastically. But she was not chosen. In tears, she ran to her mother's arms, hid her face and withdrew from the action around her.

After being dressed in her costume, one of the chosen girls decided she didn't want to do it anymore and pulled the gown over her head and sat down. Another angel was needed! "Who wants to be the angel?"

My friend tried to get her daughter to turn around. "Look, they need an angel! Raise your hand!" But her daughter was too upset and too disappointed to see the chance to join in. Another child took the part.

How often do we miss God's gifts or fail to recognize opportunities God holds out to us because we are looking inward, focused on losses of the past, bitter over not getting exactly what we had hoped for? Our church service often ends with the pastor saying, "Look up and receive your blessing!" Jesus said, "It is the Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12.32.

Sometimes, though, his gifts are not so obvious as a new house. They might come disguised in plain paper or come in a box that doesn't seem the right size for what you really wanted. But our Father knows us better than anyone and he chooses the very best gifts. Look up! What has he given you for Christmas?