It’s an awkward thing, opening presents, isn’t it?
Kids have this marvellous rite of passage to react authentically to the gift they have just unwrapped. If they throw it to the side or make some brazen comment like, “It’s just clothes!” – we laugh at them, call them cute for speaking their mind.
But in Adult Land, whether it’s a wonderfully thoughtful birthday gift or an I-grabbed-it-from-the-newsagent-on-the-way-here gift, there’s a certain etiquette to be adhered to. The card must be opened first, for example. A comment on the wrapping doesn’t go astray. Some will employ humour by wrestling a little with the method of wrap adhesion (tape, string, staples…) before ripping the paper apart with childish gusto (delightful diversion tactic, really). There might be layers to peel back, building tension to crescendo as cellophane, bubble wrap, tissue paper and styrofoam are gently removed to reveal… what?
The moment of truth: can you let your genuine reaction free?
Or will you be needing those rusty high school drama class skills once again?
It was my birthday today.
Would you believe me if I said that I was lucky enough not to have need of any dramatic devices to express my pleasure in the gifts I was given?
It was a fun day – busy and full of the people and things I love: pancakes and pyjama giggles, op-shopping and coffee, sunshiny chats, chocolate and hugs, reading and wine, clothes, candlelight and smiles. Sounds like a Jane Austen novel!
But at the forefront of my mind has been the number 33. They are the years I have amassed – the same as Jesus’ age when he completed his ministry on earth. And that’s why this birthday feels significant somehow.
I think of the gift he gave and the response I offer in the way I live my life.
Is my life honouring of him, of his sacrifice? Am I authentically grateful for what he handed to me when the cross claimed his last breath? Or do I offer a fake, practiced thankfulness that fails to seep to the full reach of my life and influence?
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
I read this today and was immediately convicted by the bit about the ‘undivided heart’.
Give me an undivided heart!
Teach me, give me understanding so that my walk is authentic!
I want to fear your name! I want to honour and revere it, to give full regard and value for it even when the world is trying to deface it.
Jesus is a gift. Some of us have accepted him and continue celebrating with the freshness of the first reveal. Others have yet to unwrap the literally impossible freedom that is absolutely possible through Jesus. And there’s this bunch of us in the middle who have allowed our heart to be divided; with contempt, materialism, busyness, familiarity, confusion – really, any distraction known to man including a kind of gnarled adultness that pretends to be more important than the fountain of joy and peace in Christ.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…”
Let’s not let our hearts split down the middle and wander around, running ruinous circles around our identity. Let’s keep our hearts in singular unity with our Maker who is so loving, so kind, so gentle, so wise, so strong – so everything that we need to BE.
This is my most cherished gift that I accept again today, and again tomorrow and the next day, afresh, new every day with all of my heart.