This year, Arley Worley gave me the most wonderful Christmas gift: a giant box of 25 Things to Open. The box arrived on December 1, with a little package for each day til Christmas.
|the most excellent potato masher|
|Sundance gift card!|
|perfect little sauce bowl|
|cozy throw in my fav blue|
|basil mint hand salts|
|thermal pack - make it hot or cold!|
|cool rolling pin|
|happy apron for Christmas cooking|
|delicious bath salts|
|boot socks in perfect orange/red/brown knit|
|W is for Worleys!|
|funny answers to text questions|
|gel booties for tired feet|
|Abe Lincoln boot socks!|
|over the knee black boot socks!|
|spa gift certificate!|
|shiny silver orb|
|Q-tip dispenser with BLUE Q-tips|
|"made with love" cookie press|
Arley knows that blue is my favorite color, that I can't get enough books or coffee, that mashed potatoes and massages are special treats I dole out when I really need to de-stress, that I long for everything in the Sundance catalog and I have a thing for Christmas napkins and shiny orbs, that I love aprons and cooking gadgets, that boot socks make me ridiculously happy, I like alphabet letter do-dads and funny quirky books and soaking in the tub, that my shoulders get tight when I'm tense and there is an itchy spot in the middle of my back that drives me crazy.
She remembered every one of these things. She went out and found them and wrapped them. That blew me away, every day.
At Christmas, I am the one who does all the shopping and wrapping and stocking-stuffing. I'm the one who plans the surprises and treats, and this job makes me happy. Dennis is busy planning wonderful treats for the people who will come to church at Christmas, sights and sounds and moments they will never forget. I take care of the home front. Because of this, I'm rarely surprised at Christmas.
That's not because DW falls down on the job, mind you. I get every single thing my heart desires at Christmas. Because when I am shopping for others, I have this habit of shopping for myself. "Oh, this is awesome! One for you, one for me." I could show you pictures of the 25 Things I Bought for Myself, but that's not the point. This is: How much fun it was every day to unwrap a gift that said, "I know you, and I love to delight you."
I love the things I bought for myself (with DW's blessing), but I treasure the things I was given. Arls gave me a much bigger gift than a Box of Things. She gave me the lesson that it is more fun to receive than to get for yourself.
I'm thinking of this today as I'm working on the Bible study I'll be teaching January through May on Wednesdays. Ephesians 1 tells us about the incredible identity and destiny God designed for us from the beginning of time, and how he planned with so much love to give it to us:
Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Ephesians 1:4-6 The Message
I am, most days, not so different than I am at Christmas: I'm so busy going out and getting the things, achievements, attention, affection that I think I need to create a special enough life that I miss the incredibly lavish gift-giving that God is up to. He is bringing me a life more special that I could ever dream up or provide. He knows me, and he loves to delight me. The question of faith is: Do I trust God to bring me the best life I could ever have, or do I feel I need to go out and get it for myself?
This winter and spring on Wednesday mornings, we'll be learning 18 Bible stories of people who could or couldn't wait for God to bring them the life he had promised. I hope we'll learn to answer the anxious questions, "What makes me special?" I hope we'll learn that it is so much more fun to receive this life than it is to try to acquire it for ourselves. Anyway, that's the challenge for me in the new year, and the lesson Arls began teaching me on December 1.
P.S. #25 was the best gift of all: these fantastic five, in person. Also like God: The best gift of all is his presence.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! - Ephesians 3:20 MSG
Happy New Year! My wish for you and me in 2014 is that we believe the promise of Ephesians 3:20 and receive the life God brings us. Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.