What makes for a good gift? Is it something you’ve always wanted, or something you never knew you needed? Is it from someone you know and care for, or someone unexpected, perhaps even unknown? Is it expensive and extravagant, or simple and sentimental? Ask these questions to ten different people and you may wind up with eleven different answers. I’m not aware of an equation to solve this one. So, what makes for a good gift? Well, as I find myself saying quite often these days, it depends.
There’s another component to this conversation that can’t be overlooked: at least a part of what makes a gift good is our ability to recognize its value, be it sentimental, practical, emotional, or otherwise. A gift that we don’t recognize will, at the very least, leave us confused. So how do we recognize the gifts that come from God? Maybe it’s more apt to ask if we recognize the gifts that come from God.
Matthew 7 tells us that the good gifts we give pale in comparison to the good gifts that God gives. If I’m honest with myself, God has given me gifts in each of the above categories. Gifts that I’ve wanted, and gifts that I didn’t know I needed. Gifts when God felt close, and gifts when God felt like a stranger. Gifts of extravagance, and gifts of simplicity. Gifts that I recognized immediately, and gifts that I only saw in the rearview mirror. Good gifts from the best giver. I believe that.
So why can it be so hard, as Matthew 7 tells us, to ask God for the deepest desires of our hearts? We want a miraculous healing, and we pray for “Your hand of peace.” We want close and intimate relationships with people we can truly know, and we pray for “community.” We want satisfaction and purpose in our work, and we pray “for direction.” Why have we become so vague in our conversations with God? Why not be bold? Why not approach the best giver with our best gift ideas? Well, that would take an awful lot of humility, wouldn’t it? When we present ourselves as vulnerable with our deepest desires, we open ourselves to the possibility that the answer might be “No.” So we hedge our bets. We leave the door open for interpretation. We live in the gray.
But remember, God is the best giver. A “no” from God must surely mean something else is on the way. Now, before we run down the line of a prosperity gospel, we must also remember that we might only recognize God’s gifts in the rearview mirror. I wonder how many gifts we’ll notice when we look back from the other side of the Kingdom. God’s gifts don’t always look like the gifts we’d expect, or even ask for. They’re good gifts, nonetheless.
If you were to lay yourself vulnerable before God right now, risking a “no,” what would you ask for? What do you learn about yourself when you think about your deepest desires? What would change if God gave you a “yes”? Would you keep your eyes and your heart open if not? Be bold, be humble, take a chance, and keep your heart open. I wonder what gifts God might show you.
I’d love to hear what you’ve been praying for these days. Feel free to drop me a line.
Be well, friends.
– Ed Sutter