We’re not very good at receiving gifts.
This was my Christmas epiphany, early morning Bible reading, just before heading to church. It was a culmination of holiday preparation, personal conviction, and just the right Psalm. Sitting in my temporary prayer-chair, in-laws’ basement, twinkle glow of Christmas lights. Last weekend’s anniversary shopping, now gift-wrapped in kraft and red, waits beneath Grammy’s Swedish tree, the one we’ve claimed as our own for the season.
The epiphany started in this same chair earlier in the week. I’d been reading Richard Rohr, a favorite of Luke’s, and he’d said this thing about a community he’d been leading. He talked about how they’d become inwardly focused –“They were possessed by the idea of getting healed, and they constantly refused to be there for others, because they first had to become whole themselves…I’m not exaggerating: To this day these people are still not healed and they’re still waiting. Their narcissism prevents them from ever being healed.” The statement struck me, and I had to wonder if it applied to me.
I’ve been praying for healing. A bad arm, full of tendonitis from too much typing. Praying, too, for a fuller cup. This second prayer inspired by a recent sermon. Pastor Greg a few weeks back, used a water glass and a garden hose for his illustration. Our love cups, filled to overflowing by the source that never runs dry. And I’ve been coming ever since with hands literally forming a bowl, asking Jesus to fill mine.
And then there was this Psalm. Later, driving to church, I tried to look it up to read to Kyle, and couldn’t find it. Weird, because now here it is, jumping right off the page.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night, to the music of the lute and the harp, to the melody of the lyre. For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
And this is where these thoughts converge.
We’re not very good at receiving gifts. This picture, God given, takes shape in view of a pile of presents, carefully wrapped. The Spirit showing me how we tend to open. Hoping. We’ll get the thing we wanted. Something from the list we’ve written. (And did you know—I just learned this—that you can save your wish list to a registry on Amazon?)
And then the Spirit whispers THIS. When we receive gifts for self-gratification, we miss the heart of the Giver.
All those hours spent shopping for just the right something for the someones we love, and “if you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)
But what if I miss it? What if—in my narcissism—I fail to notice all these good gifts from the world’s best Giver?
We’re two days from Christmas. Tomorrow Christmas Eve. There will be gifts to open, and gifts to give, and I wonder what would happen, if we switched our focus from the stuff in the boxes to the source of the LOVE?