I can still picture the tears running down the face of my youngest daughter, then 14 years old, the day my parents drove a bright red two door Corolla Coupe into our driveway, and told our two daughters it was a gift for them
It was entirely unexpected.
We had been perfectly clear with both our daughters after our 16 year old had gotten her license, that we would not be buying a car for them. It was not an option for us financially.
Well, the unexpected happened.
The unexpected gift, we didn’t pay for. It was the well-cared for car of a dear aunt, who was ready for a newer, more environmentally conscious car and wanted her car to go to someone who would appreciate it – she choose her two grand- nieces.
Some gifts, like a bright red sporty car are easy to receive. No-one had to remind my daughters to say ‘Thank-you’ for this gift. Their joy was natural and easy to see.
Not all gifts are packaged like a bright red sports car. Some gifts don’t look so pretty on the outside. Or, maybe they weren’t exactly what we had planned for.
Sometimes it is hard to know how to receive life’s gifts.
Recently, we received a gift in our family – in the form of an surprise pregnancy and, later, a sweet wee one.
For us, a gift – new life – in unexpected packaging.
Receiving what life lays before us requires faith.
It takes faith – eyes to see with God’s eyes – to pour grace on situations that may not come in perfect packages with pretty big pink bows.
Jesus came wrapped in a surprising package.
The Israelites were looking for a king to lead them out of bondage –
They found a baby swaddled in a blanket and laying in a manger.
They were looking for a royal birth and a noble lineage –
They found an unwed teenaged mother .
They expected a mighty warrior to enter the scene in the city of Jerusalem
Perhaps mounted on a chariot, pulled by a mighty team of horses, surrounded by an huge army with swords drawn;
Instead, Jesus entered Jerusalem, the city he came to save, unarmed and riding on a donkey.
Not at all what was expected.
Life comes to us in unexpected packages.
Life often gives – ‘gifts‘ – us things we don’t expect – things like:
- a difficult relationship (at work, in your family, in your friendship) –
- health problems
- perhaps, a job that isn’t fulfilling you
- ___________(fill in the blank)
How will you receive it?
A big piece of life hinges on our responses to what we’ve been given – gifted – how we receive what is on our life’s platter.
Our responses depend on our view of God. Is He really in charge and sovereign over all things – or just the good stuff?
To me our responses in our life are the story of the pearl.
The first start to a pearl is an irritant – a small piece of sand or parasite, rubbing away at the tender insides of the clam – which causes the clam to release a protective layer – to surround and soften the sand’s harsh rub. The final product – the gift – a pearl – resulting from the irritating grain of sand.
Some of our irritants in life, too, can be used as a softening agents – shiners and brighteners in our lives – to create pearls of great beauty – which couldn’t be made any other way.
God is the ultimate re-gifter. God can take the paltry and difficult thing and remakes it – reforms it – into a tool to reshape some piece of us. In this way, He creates beauty out of ashes, by re-forming the hard thing into a life giving thing – a thing of beauty – a tool of grace in our lives
I heard a Christian speaker tell of how she wrestled with God in prayer over her son whose illness had kept him in bed close to a year. In desperation, she finally asked God “Why? Why are you allowing this illness to continue?” She heard the quiet voice of God whisper to her heart – ‘I’m giving your son a heart of compassion’.
Greater purpose. Mighty plans. God’s handiwork. God’s recreating – creatively repurposing that which brings pain into that which brings life.
**Lord, today we give You our hard places – the difficult thing – we ask You to recreate and reform that very thing to become a gift for Your greater good and purpose. Lord, give us eyes to see and hearts willing to bend to receive all that You have for us this day.