gifts for growth…
January 10, 2018
A children’s book I read described what I wrote back in August, except the author expressed the concept more beautifully than I ever could! I desired and still do, to see beyond my pain, to see into the lives of others and love and encourage them in whatever way God would have me. I remember early on, feeling so frustrated that I couldn’t pray for others and that I could only call on His Name; frustrated that I truly couldn’t see past my own pain.
This author uses the description of a family in which a dark cloud has set temporary residence only over their home. As the days go by, the King begins to deliver gifts to them. The gifts are more significant and involved to the matters of the heart than a human mind could grasp, but gifts that carried them through each stormy day. As their home becomes encroached by a flood, the King sends a beautiful boat made of gorgeous leaves for the family to rest in and stay above the rising waters. At one point within the story the lights begin flickering and the family is found in the dark, no light, until the King responds to their cries. Suddenly fireflies filled their home. One lands on the father’s shoulder and tells him that when darkness surrounds them, the King will always send light. As the mother looks around at what is dimly lit, she expresses that she cannot see outside of her home but only a few of the gifts that are within the room. The same firefly lands on her shoulder and reassures her that “the light reveals only what you need to see.”
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
What a beautiful description of how God gently tends to each of us. Restoring us slowly but surely into a creation that reflects Him and declares His glory. Understanding His gifts He lavishes on us while on earth, sustains us until we are restored to completion and lacking nothing!
January 10, 2019
I don’t know what this new year brings for you. I don’t know if it is already filled with pain from loss or the void of a life you anticipated being around for much longer than was given. I don’t know if you enter a new year with hope or fear. I don’t know if you carry such a burden that you feel like your knees might buckle and the weight of the pain will crush you. I don’t know if you feel like there is only darkness surrounding you. I don’t know if you have a heart that is light and ready to conquer the year ahead. What I do know, is that when each of these feelings swelled within me, I was rescued by the truth of light.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life.'”
When the pain of not having my child was the only thing I could feel, I was delivered gifts by a King. Gifts that became reminders even to this day, that it is He who sustains me. As illustrated in this children’s book, I felt like the mother who tried to look through her windows or even into the next room, yet couldn’t make anything out; no form was clearly defined, the matters of habits seemed distorted, and normal seemed so far out of reach. My weaknesses beamed from every ounce of my body. I had nothing to give but my broken self.
It’s then that one realizes the sustaining power of the Lord. When you can’t think beyond your problems, when your pain blinds you from seeing the crying heart of a friend, when you become so overwhelmed by your circumstances that worry and anxiety creep into your mind and leave you exhausted…that’s when you seek something outside of yourself! You have proven that you are not able to sustain your own heart and mind. Daunting thought if you don’t believe in God! Challenging thought if you do believe in God!
“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.”
We just closed the door on another season of gift giving. Did you receive any gift that was capable of sustaining you through the trials you left in 2018 or the ones you anticipate in 2019? The gifts of God hold power. They are for all people, but not all people are willing to receive them. Have you received them and not credited them to the giver of light? Maybe you haven’t even realized the gifts you’ve been given to sustain the heart within you? Do you notice the daily provision of gifts that are delivered? While it may rarely be delivered from a lightning bug, let me share another journal entry that used this very creature to deliver a gift of hope…
September 10, 2017
“His provision of light despite the darkness of the grave.
Ryan and I visited Tyler’s gravesite this evening. I couldn’t help but think that it’s just not how it is supposed to be…parents looking over a memorial of their infant, shattered dreams buried. We cried and Ryan held me yet again.
As we watched the sunset and darkness take over, thousands of fireflies filled the cemetery. More fireflies than I have ever seen in one place. I believe He uses all of His creation to speak to us. In this case, the darkness of the grave was still filled with His light. Nothing can escape the power of the Almighty God!”
A moment when the enemy desired to fill us with despair was thwarted by the light of revelation. The gifts from God that we receive as we wade through this life are delivered in such an intentional manner. Rarely do we receive them all at once. Imagine if it looked like Christmas morning. Piles of gifts waiting for us to open. We rip through each one, examine it quickly, demonstrate a brief exclamation of excitement, then move to the next package. The beauty and function of a gift is lost and no longer holds the value it was intended to deliver, if too many gifts are clumped together.
I watched Austyn as a 2 year old walk in to our living room and shrill with excitement as she beheld at least a dozen beautifully wrapped packages with bows and tags specially created for her. It was in the moments following that I realized why the Lord intentionally spreads out His loving-kindness of giving and revealing His gifts of eternal value. She became overwhelmed after opening 4 gifts. Here I was, desiring to give her so many wonderful gifts that would cheer her heart and bring her moments of laughter and play. But I sabotaged the receiving heart. She sat down after that 4th gift and said, “Too many!” She couldn’t take any more gifts! Sounds almost crazy but what a beautiful depiction of the human heart; an understanding of how God prepares our hearts to receive gifts like grace, mercy, peace, wisdom, knowledge, understanding. If given all at once how could we possibly discern the depth of the gift and it’s purpose in our life at the time it was given.
I couldn’t pray for others, but I called on His Name. It’s the only thing I could do. Do you know what He revealed to me as the light highlighted the many Names of God? He burned them into my heart and mind, allowing me to understand more fully the character of His holy Name; how each Name used in scripture reveals the unchanging character of God. He didn’t need me to pray for people, He needed me to understand how powerful His Name was and still is! He needed me to become so acquainted with His nature that it rolled off my tongue when I finally could pray.
“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Has a cloud set over your home? Have you lost the ability to see and receive the gifts that are freely given? Have you declined the function of a boat sent for you to climb in and stop struggling. Have you smothered the light so you remain in the darkness? Are you frustrated that the gifts haven’t come at your pace? Or frustrated that you only see a few gifts?
I was. I was frustrated! I still get frustrated as I long for something that has yet to be fulfilled, but I have grown accustomed to the provision of those gifts from My King. I remain certain that more gifts will continue to lighten my heart. I think so often of my 2 year old Austyn on that Christmas morning. I also had a 1 year old Connor. He received a gift that Christmas. One gift. An empty paper towel holder. It was received with delight. It was used as a drum stick on furniture, to observe the world through a single scope lens, to explore his voice as a megaphone, to enjoy as a lollipop and ultimately to mesmerize those cool, blue eyes as it burned in the fire. He took full advantage of the gift he received.
May you rest in the fact that He gives you “a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.” If He desired for you to know one month from now or one year from now, he would have gifted you with a spotlight. So whether the light comes from a lightning bug on a warm summer night or opening the pages of His Word, may you trust that He will reveal exactly what you need to see.
“Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.”