Thursday, May 2, 2013

Rejecting and Returning Gifts

Recently I was reflecting back years and years ago. You know those memories that haunt; the ones that leave your cheeks bright red and make you feel guilt over something long ago forgotten by everyone but you.

It was Christmas. I was maybe seven or eight, and I wanted one thing and one thing alone: Chrissy. She was a 'My Size Baby' and there were none quite like her. I tore into boxes and packages wrapped in Santa Clause and snowflakes. Disappointment followed disappointment and eventually it set in- there was no life size doll under the tree for me.

When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. I returned every gift that year simply because I didn't get the one gift I thought would turn my world upside-down. What a childish child I was. I can't even recall what I did with the money I received from my returns, only that I didn't come out with enough to buy that life changing doll. I would be miserable for the rest of my life.

How and why did my parents put up with me? What in the world were they thinking? After all the searching through ads, standing in lines, deciphering this gift or that- and I simply turned up my nose and rejected the many gifts purchased and wrapped just for me.

How disappointing that morning must have been for them. They sat there anxious to see the expressions, hear the squeals, and catch the moments in pictures that would bring back memories for years and generations. Instead they saw dissatisfaction and ungratefulness; felt frustration and rejection.

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards
of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the
oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God
supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through
Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion
forever and ever. Amen.
~1 Peter 4:11

God has carefully and meticulously bestowed spiritual gifts to each and every one of us. These gifts are unique, and they are necessary for the entire body of Christ. He has intentionally given you gifts that are unlike my gifts. Do we turn our nose to the gifts God has skillfully woven into our being because we see another gift? Are we looking at something more useful or satisfying; something grander and greater?

If God is a God that can feel disappointment and rejection- and surely He is- does He not ache as we carelessly cast aside the unique gifts He offers us- the unique gifts He offers his children? I've been on both ends of the equation. I've been the rejecting receiver and the rejected giver. I've disregarded the precious gifts along with the heart of the beloved giver. I've also labored exhaustively in search of the perfect gift- needing to show through my giving how cherished, treasured, and special an individual is, only to have my intentions and thoughts tossed aside like soiled rags.

Have you seen the joy and surprise on the face of a loved one because of your gift? Have you experienced the satisfaction of watching that loved one use and share that gift? Nothing compares to those emotions. How fulfilling. How gratifying.

To even attempt rejecting God's gifts to us, as I did my parent's gift to me as a child, in search of something more fulfilling, is nothing less than telling God His gift to me is worthless and useless. To reject His perfect gift in search of a greater gift is to reject the perfect God in search of a greater god. What foolishness this is and fools we are. In refusing our gifts, we come to find we have nothing left, and the gift we are striving for will always be out of reach and unattainable. We will be left miserable for the rest of our lives.

How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully
receive from Him the little things?
~Dietrich Bonhoefer

What has God gifted you to do? Are you called to encourage, lead and guide, discern and teach, labor through servant hood by reaching out to widows, opening your home with hospitality, feeding the hungry, going as a missionary, sending missionaries, receiving missionaries, ministering through music, offering words of wisdom or discernment? Not only do we disappoint and reject Him by casting aside our gift, but also by neglecting to recognize that gift. Seek out and ask for your gift! Obey and glorify God through the usage of an irreplaceable gift He has placed in you and you alone.

Now's your time to share with me. Let's stir one another up and share one another's gifts. God has given me a gift to teach others with His Word. What has He gifted you to do? Walk in obedience!

For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. ~1 Corinthians 12:14-20

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