Gift-giving stresses me. Not because I don’t want to give, but the mental anguish of trying to pick the right gift. The kind of gift that makes you look forward to seeing me. The kind of gift that says, “I know you.” But after decades of shopping for the same people, I’m running out of ideas.
Take my parents, for example. They have just about everything they want and need. And if they don’t, it’s because they can’t afford it. Which means, I can’t either. So what do you get someone who has everything (that they can afford)?
So, this past Christmas, I asked Holy Spirit to give me a few gift ideas to make my people light up. I heard the word “re-gift”.
Re-gift? Like, give them a gift previously given to me? A gift that I didn’t even want? C’mon God. You don’t strike me as the cheap type!
Re-gifting can be tricky. You have to make sure that nothing on the gift or about the gift reveals that it is a re-gift. You have to make sure that the original “gifter” or the new “giftee” do not know each other. And the re-gift should be something that could have been purchased in the previous week, not the previous decade. Most important, the re-gift can’t expose the obvious- that you don’t like it.
Re-gift, God? He replies.
“Re-gift my love.”
“Re-gift my mercy.”
“Re-gift my grace.”
“Re-gift my compassion.”
I smile. I have that warm-fuzzy feeling. He continues.
“Re-gift my joy.”
“Re-gift my peace.”
“Re-gift my forgiveness.”
Whew- cold, prickly sensation. Perceiving my clinched jaw, He says, “…and put a bow on it.”
That last one always gets me. It was a setup.
Suddenly, my mind is flooded with all the missed opportunities to show love, mercy, compassion, etc. Like the time I refused eye contact with the man begging for change. Or the last time I was on the train- how I put my purse in the seat so that no one would sit next to me. Or when I hit “DECLINE” when a “friend” who always has a problem called. Or when the employee who had a death in the family cried in my office. How should I comfort her? Is it appropriate to hug her? I respond my handing her a napkin. I was out of tissues.
Forgiveness seems like the hard part for many of us. But if you think about it, showing mercy, sharing joy, or giving people some of our time trips us up every day. Missed opportunities. We perceive that forgiveness is harder to do- to give because its only necessary after someone has hurt or offended us. We feel something that’s hard to ignore.
And yet, we demonstrate ease, if you will, in ignoring the opportunity to give grace, joy, peace, and patience in the seemingly mundane things in life. We ignore the cleaning people in our office buildings (or homes). We ignore the teenage mom (to-be). We ignore the felon, desperately trying to re-enter society. We ignore Jesus’ prompting to be love, mercy, peace…
YOUR ABILITY TO GIVE IS IN DIRECT PROPORTION TO YOUR ABILITY TO RECEIVE.
This spiritual ailment is not about you being selfish or self-absorbed. It’s not about you showing concern for a colleague or being approachable on the train. Far from it, Sweets. It’s about your ability- or inability- to receive from God.
If we struggle to show, let’s say- compassion, it’s because we have yet to receive Jesus’ compassion in full. You can replace ‘compassion’ with almost anything: joy, generosity, patience, kindness, forgiveness…
Maybe this isn’t you. Maybe I’m the only one. So I will personalize it… to get you off the hook.
When I refuse to forgive, what I am saying in truth is that I believe that there are some things that are unforgivable- uncovered by His blood. Which means, I believe that there is some thing I have done or could possibly do that God would consider unforgivable. Or, I’m simply suffering from a severe case of amnesia, having forgotten just how much I have been forgiven.
You can’t give what you don’t have. But you can have Jesus’ grace. You can have His peace. You can have God’s comfort, His friendship. All you have to do is receive it. Only then, can you share it; re-gift it.
So, in an attempt to get from under the hot stage lights, I say to God, “That’s nice, Lord. But I need something to put in a box.”
I think I heard Him laugh.
In closing, I challenge you to examine your heart. Ask God what gifts you are leaving on the table. Ask Him to make you aware of the opportunities around you to re-gift the attributes of His heart. And then, put a bow on it.
YOUR TURN. How did you re-gift Jesus this week? Share with us in the COMMENT section below!