Friday, December 17, 2010
Good gifts from the good gift-giver
William Willimon, the Methodist writer and theologian, has said that this is how God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to become. There is mystery to God’s economy. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving up a little of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim. We didn’t ask for most of what he’s given, most notably his outrageously extravagant love. This keeps God’s gifts from becoming our possessions. When he gives them, it’s best to whisper thanks and then to ponder what we’re to make of them. There is purpose to his generosity. If he gives you a spatula, then perhaps you should be thinking about what it is you’re supposed to bake.
I was once of the opinion that my life was my own. I now know better; my days are lived in a state of grace. What I’m still learning is the art of receiving gifts from God open-handedly, and then discerning what I’m to do with them. It helps to be flexible on this point, and I try to gently accept what comes my way. Good gifts from the good gift-giver have no strings attached. They are given grace-fully. We should receive them in that spirit and be glad.