Friday, August 8, 2014

On receiving gifts

What is the proper way to receive a gift? We'd better figure this out because we will all be faced with this situation at some time or another.

I've brainstormed some appropriate gift-receiving responses:
HUGE smile
Clapping (if you're under age 6)
Exclaiming something along the lines of -- "Oh my gosh! How did you know?" or "Wow, I am SO surprised."
Hugging the giver
Saying "Oh, you shouldn't have" or "You didn't have to do this."
Make a big deal out of it and say how you can't believe you forgot their gift, ohmygoshthisissoembarrassing.


We tend to downplay ourselves by intimating that we are not worthy of the gift. Is that for us to decide? Or the giver?

We have had several weeks of being on the receiving end of gift-giving as more people have partnered with us in missions. I think we've gained 13% in just 6 weeks! While we were driving home Andy brought up the topic of how we respond to God's gifts. We praise Him for his provision, express amazement at His goodness, we thank Him for using believers to advance the gospel. While those are appropriate responses, they are kind of grown-up versions of the list I brainstormed above.

Thank you thank you thank you! Oh, Lord, you shouldn't have.
Thank you God, but you didn't have to do this.
How did you know, O Lord, that I needed this? Thank you so much!
Oh, thank you God, but I don't deserve this, did you save the receipt?

Recently, we were blindsided by one individual's generous gift. It is a major purchase and we had already been planning how we were going to squirrel money away. Over the next several days, Andy became increasingly self-deprecating, wondering why he had received this gift...we hadn't even done a polished presentation...we fumble over our words when we talk with folks about financial could this have happened?

As if it was a curse rather than a blessing.

While Andy was mulling over the situation he happened to get together with his friend Jeremy. He shared the story and his subsequent thoughts/emotions and Jeremy, in true Christian love, knocked some sense into Andy. It was sort of backwards route to getting Andy to not only see the gift for what it was -- A GIFT -- but also recognize his sinful pattern of thinking.

"Don't you think you are good enough for someone to buy something for you?"
"Do you think you need to be worthy of this gift?"
"Aren't you good enough?"

Well, no.
Will we ever be good enough? No.

But we are missing something. The thing that helps us transition from knowing we are unworthy to accepting a gift despite our condition.


Ok, four things that mean the same thing.

In the Jesus Storybook Bible, the story of Jesus embracing the little children is adapted. As the disciples bicker about who will enjoy the gift of sitting at Jesus' right hand, Jesus slips away and joins the play group of children running around nearby.
"So while Jesus' friends were arguing, some people who knew all about getting gifts -- in fact, you might say they were gift-experts -- had come to see Jesus. Who were they? They were little children" (pg. 258).

Now. My kids are not always ideal specimens at receiving gift but just roll with the analogy. Anytime you over-think an analogy, it breaks down. This analogy is used in the Bible. though, so I think it should hold up fairly well.

Children don't have the the guilt and angst and over-analyzing-tendencies and mis-placed humility and BAGGAGE that we do.
They simply receive. They don't presume to deserve the gift that is offered. They don't plan to behave in a certain manner when a gift is given to them.

But they are so grateful. So smiley and huggy and full of electric happiness down to their toes. They also, with an innocence only available to newer humans, expect to receive gifts from people who love them. They are disappointed when there is no gift from a favorite aunt or from grandma.

People who love each other give each other gifts.

God loves us.

God gives us gifts.

We need to develop our sense of anticipation along with our response gratitude. Should we be surprised when God provides? No. Should we be smiley and huggy and full of electric happiness down to our toes? Yes.

by Trisha

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