This Gift of the Month idea is a little different. I hope you’ll enjoy unwrapping it.
For our family birthdays, the coffee table is the focal point with its stack of festive gift-wrapped packages for whichever boy or girl we are celebrating. As per our tradition, when our son and daughter-in-law’s children celebrate birthdays, the four grandparents reimburse our children for the gifts they purchase on our behalf. Then we all enjoy watching the honored child open presents from the family. What a joyous time with hugs and expressions of gratitude!
Throughout the year, our daughter-in-law carefully notes admired toys and considers the children’s needs. This process ensures the gifts will be both delightful to the children and appropriate.
Our grandchildren’s mom spends more time with them than anyone else, and she knows their preferences, needs, and sizes. Therefore, the gifts, some needed and some desired, are well-chosen. Wished-for gifts that are unsafe or unwise never make it to the coffee table.
How does this gift-giving compare to God’s provision?
Our heavenly Father also provides gifts for His children.
Living under the stars in a pasture with sheep, David praised God as His Provider. If I’d been with David, I think I would have asked to live in a palace instead of on rocky hillsides with smelly sheep. In contrast, David, expressed gratitude for the table prepared before him. According to Phillip Keller in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23*, the table David referred to could have been high plateaus or mesas the shepherd prepared for their sheep before allowing them to graze there. What a fitting picture of Jesus, our Shepherd, preparing provisions for us each day.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
God knows us better than anyone else and sees what delights us and what we need. As our good heavenly Father, He prepares His gifts wisely. Some of them may not be of our choosing, but we can trust Him as the Giver of good gifts. By the same token, some of the things we long for may be omitted because He knows the future and His sovereign plan.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
A Beneficial Morning Practice
I’ve started a new practice during my morning routine. I often draw a table at the top of my journal page and thank God for the provisions He’s placed on my “table.” Then I think about my needs for the day. (Of course, my heavenly Father is the only One who knows everything I’ll need.) I ask Him to provide and thank Him for His love.
Maybe I need a deeper understanding of a passage of Scripture or a more thankful heart. Perhaps He will gift me with an extra measure of peace for a brewing storm that is yet unseen to me. Will He provide comfort so that I can comfort someone else?
If we are Christ-followers, some of His gifts are ours to embrace at any time. When we yield to God, the fruit of the Spirit is ours to enjoy and share with those we meet.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.
Other needs may seem mundane in comparison and some may be temporary. What about time to relax or skill to prepare an entrée? The gift of laughter is a welcomed relief in trying moments. Our heavenly Father may even provide safety in dangers we cannot foresee.
Do You Need These?
It’s interesting to ponder the needs we may encounter in one twenty-four-hour period. What about these?
- an opportunity to minister to someone
- mercy for someone who made a mistake
- forgiveness for someone who has wronged us
- ability to care for a child or senior adult
- conviction of sin (Ouch!) Not pleasant, but necessary.
What About These?
- a delicate flower or dramatic sunset to remind us of the Creator
- relief from suffering or grace to endure it
- contentment (Anybody?)
- discernment in a difficult situation
- guidance for a decision
A Friendly Challenge
As we consider the gifts God daily places on our “coffee table,” I have a challenge for you, dear reader friend.
On paper or on your computer, make two columns. In the left-hand column, list the needs you had today and those you can predict for tomorrow. Ask God to make you aware of how He met each one as they occurred. In the right-hand column, jot down the way He met the need. (Pardon the specific instructions; it’s the teacher in me.)
Then, answer these questions:
- Which gifts did you know you needed ahead of time? Which were surprises?
- Which needs still appear to be unmet? (Continue praying about those, realizing God may respond in a way that seems unlikely or unwelcome at first.)
- How were His provisions tailor-made for your situations?
- What made you rejoice today?
I plan to accept the challenge, too. When we review the final list, I believe praise and thanksgiving for the Gift Giver will pour from our hearts. I feel as excited as my grandchildren on their birthdays, eager to tear the ribbon from presents God selects for me! What about you?
Please share results from this challenge. Your input is valuable.
Whether your gifts seem small or large, sharing them allows you to encourage us. What has God placed on your gift table?
*Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1970.