“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17
With it being three to four days before Christmas a lot of people are focused on the gifts they still have to get for loved ones and friends. People are running into Starbucks, grabbing caffeine and gift cards, so they can run the rest of their holiday errands. I get really excited to give gifts to my wife and kids and others around me. There is kind of this nervous, excitement watching them unwrap something that I put a lot of time and effort into getting for them. Then the moment of truth….they open it…and…
“Oh my gosh this is awesome!!! What is it?”
Now as adults, I think for the most part we do our best to at least show gratitude for the gifts others give us around Christmas time. However, we all know a gift we’ve given to a kid that just didn’t make the cut. It gets tossed, or maybe a “this sucks, I don’t want socks!” We chalk it up to them just being kids and might even give the time-tested platitude “Oh from the mouth of babes!” But the truth is as adults we are not very good at receiving gifts either. We can generate artificial gratitude, but we all know that the gifts we like are the ones that we use. Do you remember the Island of Misfit Toys from Rudolph? Well, we have a shelf of misfit gifts that stays in the dark recesses of our basement.
I can be bad at receiving gifts from other people, but I am especially terrible at receiving gifts from the Lord. God is the original gift-giver, and Scripture is filled with language about how the Father lavishly pours out gifts for all his children!
So the question is this: what gift are you not receiving from the Lord? What has God given you that like a little kid you shrug your shoulders and throw it in some corner of the room to get dusty? Is it a talent, a relationship, something else?
I know one of the gifts I often struggle to receive is rest. The Bible is filled with God providing for and calling his people into rest. The OT is filled with feasts and sabbaths for God’s people over the course of the year. Our seven day week is modeled after God’s example in creation that for six days he worked, but on the seventh, he rested. God didn’t rest because he was tired (God is infinite!), but so that we might know that we have been given the gift of rest. Rest is such a gift to us that each day we are given the gift of sleep! Psalm 127:1-2 says this:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early or go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:1-2
He gives to His beloved sleep! Those six words are filled with so much goodness and grace! The fact that I am considered beloved by the Father is mind-boggling, and he also gives me sleep! I know part of the reason I don’t receive God’s gift of sleep is because for some strange reason I like the taste of anxious toil. Usually, that is me staying up late to work on something, or to try and decompress (read watch dumb movies) because I am worried about something else. Now me not receiving the gift of sleep is multi-faceted and stems from me trying to do too much, being over-scheduled, which stems from a deeper brokenness in trying to perform for the sake of approval.
But at the core it’s a trust issue, do I trust the Lord enough to sleep? Do I trust in his Word that I am already fully approved in Jesus? These are hard, deep, questions, but if I am willing to dive into them I know that I will find the rest (and the sleep) that I deeply need and that the Lord wants to give to me.
What is it for you? What gift do you need to receive from the Lord, and what is holding you back from receiving it?