Christmas is often called “The Season of Giving.” I love giving gifts as much as anyone, and want to give to those I love the very best that I possibly can. I also enjoy receiving gifts – who doesn’t? But I recently read a short story that reminded me of the right perspective on giving and receiving. I hope this speaks to your heart, too.
A rich man’s son was graduating from college. For months, the son asked his father for a new car, knowing that his father had more than enough money. When graduation day came, the young man’s father called him into the study. The father handed him a wrapped gift and congratulated him on his achievement.
Looking disappointed, the son opened the gift to find a lovely, leather-bound journal, with his name embossed on the cover. Feeling as if he had received a less than adequate gift, he angrily raised his voice, threw down the journal, and stormed out.
Many years passed. The young man had not seen his father since graduation day. In time, he became successful and was wealthy like his father, with a beautiful home and family. He came to realize that his father was aging, and that it may be time to put the past behind them.
Just then, he received a message that his father had passed away, and that he had to return home to take care of the estate. As the mourning son regretfully returned home, he began searching through his father’s important paper. He found that journal, still brand new, just as he had left it.
He picked it up, and as he flipped through the pages, a car key dropped from inside the back pages of the journal. A dealer tag was attached to the key that read, “Paid in full. Wherever this car takes you, write about it so you can remember it forever. Love, Dad.”
Imagine the regret this man felt in this moment; realizing he had squandered years of relationship with his father on the basis of not getting what he wanted. No matter what you expect, be grateful for what you are given. It may end up being more of a blessing than you think. Let this little tale be a reminder of Luke 11:11-13, which puts a Biblical perspective on the issue of giving and receiving.
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If then, being evil, you know how to give good gift unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask.”
At one time or another, all of us have been disappointed or irritated at a decision our parents made that THEY felt was best for us. This happens often during the teenage years, and is usually accompanied by exasperated eye rolling, dramatic door slamming, and a lot of pouting. But in most cases, in time, we come to see how our parent’s wisdom and experience was indeed looking out for our best interest.
James 1:7 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Our earthly parents, and to an even greater degree, our Heavenly Father, want to give us good gifts. But they know that just giving us what we want is not always the best.
If you find yourself wanting something specific from others, or from life, and if it does not turn out like you expected, be careful to not make the mistake the young man made. Recognize that what we want is not always what is best for us. And in light of the fact that we can only now see “through a glass dimly” (see 1 Cor 13:12), it may be wise to allow God to decide what you need and not expect Him to give you what you want.
Pastor Bryan Grisham is married to Leeann, a proud dad of Riley & Claire, and doesn't mind frequent mission trips. He dwells within Caddo Parish, LA.
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