An Unexpected Gift
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11
I got a great, unexpected gift from God this past weekend.
At first glance, it wouldn’t be considered a gift at all by anyone I know. After a measly three and a half hours of sleep last Wednesday night, I was up and on the road at 3:30AM to attend a camp fair at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. It was a long drive in the dark and fog but I had my tunes to sing along to so I was making the best of it. After a full day at the career fair, I made a Target run and decided to stick with my original plan of driving just partway home, stopping at a friend’s house for the night.
About 30 minutes from my friend’s home, I started feeling tired. Just 5 miles from her house, a couple of warning lights popped on the dash of the camp van I was driving. My dad insisted I learn some basic information about cars when I got my license, including which lights mean “stop immediately and check this” and which lights mean “keep going but stop at the nearest mechanic and have them check on this.” The brake light fell into the first category so I stopped to be sure I hadn’t accidentally tripped the parking brake. I hadn’t so I followed the second light and continued on to my friend’s house.
First thing the next morning, the van went into a trusted mechanic. The alternator had died and he was impressed I had enough power to get it into his shop. And because I was in small town, rural, central Minnesota, I would have to wait a day for him to get the part in to fix it.
So instead of coming home for a 24 hours of work and life, I was away from the office for two full days with one of my very best friends from my college years. What was going to be a stressful weekend filled with a fair amount of additional travel turned into a quiet, relaxing weekend filled with friends and deep conversations. I left their house on Monday to venture towards the conference I was schedule to attend in the Alexandria area very much at peace and feeling rested in ways so much more important than physically.
God knew better than me how much my heart needed extended time with this friend and her husband. He knew I needed the laughter and connection. He knew I needed the reminder that camp would survive without me for a couple of extra days. What was at first glance a major inconvenience and annoyance was, in fact, a wonderful gift from God at just the right time.
It’s got me wondering how often God is trying to give us something wonderful but we are so distracted by our wants and expectations we completely miss the gift being offered. Maybe that cancelled event you were excited about is his gift of time to spend with that person you have been meaning to call. Or perhaps the unexpected repair bill busting the budget is his gift of time to stay home as a family. Maybe the work obligation you are annoyed about is his way of putting you in the right place to network your way into a major promotion or a new job opportunity all together.
Matthew 7 is part of a teaching known as the Sermon on the Mount. Throughout this passage of scripture, Jesus is teaching one powerful truth after another. There is more than enough sermon inspiration every two or three verses to keep the average pastor going for way longer than their congregation probably is willing to sit and listen! Specifically in verses 7-12, Jesus is driving home the point that God wants to give GOOD things to his children, not condemnation and shame. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” These are the questions Jesus asks the crowd.
He is pointing out something which had too many religious leaders had forgotten. Even we, imperfect, evil humans, know how to give our children good gifts which are beneficial to them. And if we can do it, how much more can our perfect, loving, heavenly Father give good gifts to his children?
So be encouraged today. God wants and is trying to give you good gifts. Gifts which are beneficial to your heart and soul. Gifts which nourish your spirit and bring you joy and peace. Don’t get so distracted by what you want, you miss the gift God is giving you which you need.
What major inconvenience or annoyance has popped up in your life recently? How can you embrace what God might be trying to gift to you in the midst of it?
When was the last time you gave your child (or a child in your life) a gift for no reason? Just to give them something and remind them you care? Seek to give your child something meaningful to them this week for no reason other than you wanted to get them something and expect nothing in return (not even good behavior!). What is their reaction? How does it make you feel? What does it teach you about God’s desire to give us good gifts?
Think about the last time you received a gift which was meaningful to you. Perhaps it was time spent with a loved one. Or something you really needed. Or something small that reminded you of something happy at just the right time. Have you thanked the gift giver? If you haven’t, make plans to purposefully say thanks this week (a quick phone call or text will be just fine). How often do you thank God for the gifts you have been given? Take some time to remember what God has already given you and give Him thanks.