Its a very sad day when your daughters’ birthday comes around and you can’t be there to celebrate.
This was the case last week as my twin girls turned 5. They live in Seoul and I live in Nashville. It was great to Skype with them on their birthday and exchange video greetings. It was great to watch them open the gifts I mailed. Their excitement and joy made me very happy. But after the happiness came and went there stood sadness. Waiting for me again. He just wouldn’t go away. So I let him stay because its normal to feel sadness in that situation and he needs to go on his own terms.
Just as futile as attempting to control or subdue emotions in our hearts, so to is the attempt to control God’s gifts in our lives. I don’t deserve the precious gift of fatherhood, yet God decided to bless me with two healthy, smart, beautiful and funny daughters. On the flip side, sometimes I feel entitled to certain gifts that I expect from God. In my Western mindset I request the gifts that I want and when I want them. I am like a 5 year old demanding from a wish list. I am slowly learning that that is not how God’s gift giving works and that’s a good thing for me!
My perspective is way off at times. Its selfish, short-sided and completely finite and ignorant. The truth is I think I know what I need from God but ultimately I have no clue. Everything from my prayers, my desires, my thoughts and my actions are proof of this fact. As a recovering addict I am charged with the task of realigning EVERYTHING in my life with God. This includes my view of His gifts.
Also, what I am realizing is that not only am I often unsatisfied with the gifts and blessings that I do have in my life, I seek out things outside of God to fill the needs and voids in my heart. I have bought into the lie that says, “You don’t need God to be happy, you can find happiness on your own.”
A few months ago I blogged about being content. Well, in some ways I have grown in that area and in some ways I am still restless and impatient. I feel like if my heart is in the right place then surely God should answer my prayers AND in a timely manner. I feel like my relationship with Jesus should correlate with the amount of pain, suffering and trials I face. The stronger my faith then the less trials I should have, right? Wrong. At least not at the moment! 🙂
My perfect gift for the twins or as I like to think of them, “My young patawans” was extendable plastic light sabers. They absolutely loved them and hopefully they will not destroy the house and/or hurt each other during their Jedi training.
Many times I am searching for that perfect gift for myself. Maybe I think I can find it on my own, maybe I think God can and will place it on my lap when I need it. In addition to these misconceptions concerning life’s gifts, I tend to miss the boat totally on what a perfect gift from God actually is. I anticipate His gifts bringing instant joy – happiness included.
Yesterday in church my pastor preached from James and the title was “Resilience Under Trial.” It was a great sermon overall but his intro really caught my attention because he started in on the notion that the best gift we can receive from God is the ability to persevere through difficulties. That is so counterintuitive, right? If He loves me He will take the pain away, take the difficulty away and take the temptation to sin away. That is not what the Bible says at all. The perfect gift we can grab ahold of is saying yes to God and no to sin. That’s it. The perfect gift is trusting the perfect God.
What a gift to not have to carry life’s burdens around on our shoulders. What a gift to be able to let go, surrender our lives to the will of the Father and trust His timing. I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m saying it’s right. This gift is the perfect gift because its not a temporary blessing that will fade over time. This gift is perfect because it is eternal. Actually all of God’s gifts are eternal. The substitutes we put in the place of God and His many gifts are of this world and are often dangerous and sinful.
“Any attraction apart from God is a fatal attraction.” – Scott Sauls
What are we all after in life? Eternal happiness. Why do we look for it in empty, worldly things? Because we give in to temptation all too often. I give in to the temptation to browse Facebook over meditating on God’s ways. I give into the temptation to obsess over my hobbies. I give in to the temptation to judge others because it makes me feel more important. I am always looking for earthly stuff to fill the hole in my heart. Instead of asking for the best gift of all. God’s love, forgiveness, acceptance and sacrifice.
I am excited for the opportunity that every day brings. Its an opportunity to better align with God’s will. In fact, I have made it a part of my daily routine that the moment I open my eyes every morning I say the words, “Thy will be done.” There is power in this powerlessness. There is freedom in starting each day by giving it fully to the will of my Father. Its how I plan on starting each of the mornings I have left in this uncertain, crazy, blessed and joyous life.
My addiction recovery is a precious gift, a second chance at life. I am forever grateful for this gift and fully intend on utilizing it every single day.
“If you are not killing your sin chances are its killing you.” – Puritan Proverb