It’s Okay to Open the Present…

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I don’t know about you, but being faced with too many choices doesn’t always seem like a luxury to me. Now please understand: I don’t mean to complain, because I am well aware that many folks in our world don’t have choices at all. I am grateful for choices, believe me. At the same time, I can get overwhelmed by them too. This is because I tend to over think things (big surprise, I know).

This over-thinking thing I have? It serves me well in many ways and I could even venture to say that a lot of the time it does help me to live out my faith in really cool and creative ways that actually glorify God. At the same time, it can be a very bad, bad thing. Discerning when it crosses over into “bad” from good is a whole other story.

So for now, think of a child on Christmas morning. All of the presents are neatly wrapped in colorful paper under the beautiful, lit up tree. You, the parent, have taken the time to choose just the right gifts to bring a smile to your child’s face and capture those moments in which you get the gift back of hearing them squeal with excitement and delight as they tear through the wrapping and hug their gift close to their little chest. Then, if you are really fortunate, they hug YOU – even tighter than the gift.

What joy!

We know it’s not about the presents and the materialism when our hearts are in the right place, don’t we? We know it’s about those moments….the exchange of joy….the gift of giving and that of watching the receiver enjoy what you have freely given to them.

We know.

But so often I find myself getting caught up in thinking about the sacrifice of self, taking up our own cross to follow after Jesus, humbling ourselves and giving it all away, day in and day out; that I fail to accept the grace that just plain “feels good” along with the grace that is there no matter what the emotions are surrounding any particular situation, or issue, or day, or circumstance. Sheeesh!

Grace is BIG when it comes to Christ Jesus.

And yes, some of it is just the plain old feel good kind of grace too.

A wonderful new friend was sharing with me last week that sometimes, we are just given the blessing by God to make choices that don’t necessarily entail doing the hardest thing. Sometimes, we get to make an easier choice. He is our Father after all. He is going to do what is best for us, and even what is hard for us when it is time to learn tough lessons. But sometimes, He just wants to give us a gift and sit back and watch us enjoy it.

She is so right. Honestly, if we are truly following after Jesus with all our “heart, mind and soul,” no matter what choices we make, we will probably endure some growing and suffering in the process of living it out. But who are we to deny our Father the blessing of giving us His unmerited grace and favor? Who are we to say, “No, I don’t deserve that present”?

Sometimes He wants us to choose the fun gift.

If no one is in need of the better present, or if that great gift isn’t intended for someone else, or better yet – for you to give over to someone else, then why not take it if we have sought after God and what He wants for us? My pastor shares all the time that “sometimes, it’s like Baskin Robbins, and we get to choose what we want.” (Eric Cartier, Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel).

Sometimes we get to choose.

I so often forget the other side of humility, friends. Yes, it’s true. I am so focused sometimes upon not taking too much pride in myself (which I definitely need to stay focused in on for the rest of my ever-loving earthly life!) that I occasionally veer into the abyss of condemnation, which is still just another way the enemy prevents us from exemplifying Christ-like humility.

Humility is knowing who you are in Christ – nothing more, nothing less.

Yes, if I have to err on one side or another, you can bet I will err on the side of surrender or giving something up or taking the hard road if and when I have any doubts about what the right thing is to do. But sometimes, we just flat-out aren’t being asked to do it!

Here is my little test I put myself through:

Go to God in prayer and stay there. Ask questions like “is there something You want me to give up here?” “Is there a hard road you want for me to go down first?” “Is there a sacrifice you want made in this situation that in all reality is probably not a sacrifice at all, but a way in which you wish to grow me further?” “Do I need to rely not upon my own understanding and go in blindfolded with this one?”

Then it’s time to listen for a while. Really listen. Listen for however long He leads you to listen.

Take action if moved to do so after listening and praying – even and especially if you don’t fully understand it at first. Then WATCH, with your eyes wide open to see how He is working His will out through the actions you took (or didn’t take). How is His plan now coming to fruition? Do you see that you had to take that action (move out of the way, surrender, back your words up with behaviors or choices) in order for that to be shown to you?

After all of that, if choices still are ahead of you and the Lord doesn’t tell you otherwise, go ahead and choose what you want.

Then ENJOY it.

There will be plenty of time for it to become tainted somehow later once the enemy is onto it. But for now, it’s okay to open the present and enjoy it for the gift tha it is. (I know that sounds negative, but it is true – the enemy is always crouching and waiting to destroy). For me, this yields positivity, believe it or not. Knowing to keep my eyes open helps me to enjoy the moment, because I hate being taken off guard by the enemy. He will still try, and sometimes he succeeds, but at least I am watching.

Finally, and most importantly, after you open your present, don’t forget to hug the One who gave it all to you!!!!

It’s just one small way we get to bring joy to the One who brings so very much to us.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

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