I have been working on a gift for my mother for over two years. It has involved connecting with family members both near and far which cannot be accomplished overnight or on a shoestring travel budget. From its inception in my imagination, this gift has brought hours of delight as I have designed it. I had no intention of it taking two years. There were times I tried to rush it, efforts that brought only frustration and diminished the joy in creating it. So I relinquished my timetable and accepted that it would come together at just the right time.
The true joy of preparing this particular gift comes from knowing my mother. I know what she holds dear and I know many of her favorite things. She will know that this has been a labor of love and she will gracefully receive all the love that has been poured into this project. This gift is especially for her. My family members may appreciate it and find it enjoyable, but she will treasure it. Not because it came from me particularly, but because it will speak to her love for her family. And it will tell her how very much she is loved right back. Others may look at it and find it nice or interesting, but they will never experience it as she does. I know her.
There will not be an exaggerated response upon her receiving this gift. That’s just not her. There will be no flowery speeches or mushy, emotional scenes. But I will see it in her face, if only for a moment, and it will delight me to be able to tell her I love her in this way, which is the true purpose of the gift – to tell her I love her. I know her. Even if she doesn’t like it as much as I imagine she will, she is my mother and she will pretend to love it. This will make me love her even more.
It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 10:35)
As this week I have put the final touches on this gift in hopes of its readiness by Mother’s Day, I’ve had to ask myself how often I’ve put this much time and effort and love into the gifts I give to God.
Do I anticipate with delight presenting myself to Him in worship? Do I think about it? Do I plan for it? Do I know Him well enough to know what He holds dear? Or do I go through the motions of having a morning quiet time, seeing it only as a time I want to receive something from Him rather than give to Him? Do I fumble around during the praise time of Sunday service rather than focus on lifting my voice to Him? Do I see my attention to His word proclaimed through a sermon as a gift to Him – something I can give to Him because I love Him so much? Do I mechanically place my monetary offering in the plate without forethought of what an offering really is? Do I delight in giving Him gifts?
My mother knows I love her. I don’t have to give her gifts to prove it. Her love isn’t swayed to love me less if I don’t come bearing gifts. Neither does she love me more when I do. I don’t worry if my gifts will be acceptable to her. The joy in gift-giving is the delight of the love from which it originates.
God’s love for us is unshakable. It is neither swayed by gifts nor the absence of them. But He knows that we are truly blessed when we come to Him, giving the gifts of our attention, our time, our offerings, our praise. He is by nature the Gift-giver. We cannot out-give Him. And we need not worry if our gift is acceptable to Him. The joy in the giving of ourselves is the delight of the love from which it originates. The love we have for Him came from Him.
“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
Let’s live our lives as gift-givers to God – perhaps we’ll hear Him singing!!