I woke up this morning and felt like staying in bed, where I could cuddle with that bit of holiday angst that took up residence in the pit of my stomach. Confession: under my covers is the safest place even at 42 years old. I worried about getting the sickness that’s going around and all the things that wouldn’t get done, about ruining my children with my actions and ruining my children with my inaction, and whether or not the Christmas season will be “magical” for my family. I worried I wouldn’t get the specific presents I’ve been asking from God: health during our anniversary cruise, safety during same, peace on earth and in the Griffiths’ home, etc., etc. It never ends, really. Whenever I get a gift, I say in my heart Thank you for that God, but can I also get… I should have stopped at the thank you, but I didn’t. We almost never do, especially when it comes to God, the greatest Sugar Daddy ever to exist in our consciousnesses. And the most under-appreciated.
Presents are God’s to give or to withhold. All I have is His, all goodness I ever feel, whether the circumstances are good or not. I know that’s true because I’ve lived through black times in the grip of some unexplainable grace while God taught it to me. He reminded me to trust Him again this morning. I’d fallen off that truth. He reminded me that I’ll get something when and if it glorifies Him. The present I think I want, that I reach for in my flesh, will only be under my tree if God– in His sovereign will– thinks it’s a present too.
I think of Gabe’s list of must-have presents. How much thought I’ve pored into his list of gifts he thinks he wants, deciding what I think he really wants, based on my older, wiser perspective. Because of the scope of my vision, I can see farther into Gabe’s desires than his 9-year-old mind can. How much more is God able to see what I really want? God, whose perspective reaches beyond the stars. When a boy asks for a fish, he will not be given a snake, will he? That’s what Jesus said about good gifts, from God and men. I need to trust my Giver.
Asking for presents isn’t a sin, but thinking we must have them, world-be-damned, is. I’ve found that the line between wanting something and entitlement is invisible, and I scarcely know when I’ve crossed over until I feel icky and empty inside and have to search out the reason for my lack of peace. To what are we entitled? Health. Safety. Money. The breath in our lungs. A trouble-free Caribbean cruise.
None of it.
As created creatures, we are entitled to whatever is given. Whether we receive it gladly or grudgingly is also a gift from God: our free will. There are some things under the tree that we cannot change. Only my reaction is within my control. And we all know that on an intellectual level. The gift is believing and trusting that I am held, in blessing and woe, by Someone greater than me. For me, His name is Jesus. And I choose to believe that whatever He gives me, He knows what I really want. Tomorrow I’ll be subject again to the caprice of my circumstances and my hormones and my ego. Today, in the quiet of my morning prayers, I can see and rest knowing that God’s presents for me are what is best, and that thought– that very thought– is a gift from Him as well.