Wednesday, July 30, 2003
My young son had gone to the trouble of making a card and a gift for me for Father's Day. And there are no gifts more special than those that have been made by the person giving them. Unfortunately, my son tried to give his creations to me at a time when I was really busy. So I said, "Can you wait a few minutes? I want to have time to appreciate it." To which he said wistfully, "Oh, you mean like the candleholder?" Some months before, he had given me a handmade candleholder one day and I was, as usual, on the run. And I totally neglected to show any appreciation. I'd forgotten about it. My son hadn't.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Unappreciated Gifts."
It hurts to make something special for someone you love - and then to give it and have it go unnoticed and unappreciated. God knows that feeling. There's not a day that goes by that He doesn't give us special gifts from His hand. As James 1:17 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father."
Sadly, we are often too busy, or too focused on what's wrong to notice and say thanks for the endless good things He's doing. No matter how hard it is right now, John 1:16 is the reality check you need to remember: "From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." Do you see them? Are you looking for them? Have you stopped to appreciate what your Father is giving you?
We're at our happiest when we choose to be preoccupied with God's goodness. Notice - we choose to be. Sure, you can aim your lens at today's trash, today's worries, today's unanswered questions. Or you can aim your lens at all the beautiful things God is doing - the people He's giving you, the opportunities, the provision for your needs, the grace, the little encouragements, the answers to prayer.
That prevailing attitude of gratitude is wonderfully expressed in Ephesians 5:19-20, our word for today from the Word of God. Paul has just talked about understanding "what the Lord's will is" and being "filled with the Spirit." What does Spirit-filled, God's will living look like? "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Did you get that? Giving thanks for everything - even the stuff we don't like or we don't understand. Why? Because we know that nothing has come into our life without it first passing through our Father's hands, and He's decided it can bring us good and Him glory.
This discipline of looking for God's gifts and consciously thanking Him for them is a powerful cure for discouragement, for negativity - which, of course, is the opposite of entering "His gates with thanksgiving" (Psalm 100:3). Frustrations and problems seem smaller as your God gets bigger (or, actually, as you see how big He is) which He does as you continually focus on being His grateful child.
A friend went through the awful ordeal of watching her young husband slowly waste away and ultimately die from cancer. Every day she went to that hospital to be with the man she loved, and to slowly watch him die. She told me how she got through that long dark night of the soul. She said, "I just blasted praise music in my car, all the way from home to the hospital and from the hospital home. I realized there's only one place Satan will never be -- in praises to the Lord!" She's right. Your praise not only elevates you; it banishes your enemy!
It hurts to make something special for someone you love and then have them not care about it. Even now your Father has put in your hands some gifts He's made just for you. Don't miss them. Don't miss the joy you give Him and yourself when you thank Him for what He's done.