Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Growing up my brother and I could rip through Christmas (or birthday) gifts in no time. We’d have all the paper off (strewn about the room) and our “loot" sprawled out across the den floor before the sleep was wiped from our eyes or the parent’s pot of coffee was done brewing. There was almost a franticness about our gift “giving”.

When my brother got married, this changed. Emily’s family has a different (less frantic) approach to Christmas morning. Each person opens one gift at a time (as it is handed to them by the giver) and everyone else . . . watches.

The first year we did this, I was tormented. It seemed somewhat painful to watch each person open each gift. My mom talks with her hands and often wants to save the pretty paper. So it was sometimes this agonizing process of watching her waffle between picking at the tape (so as not to rip the paper) and gesturing with her hands as she paused frequently to talk. “Get on with it!” I found myself shouting inside.

Though tormented at first, I have come to cherish this new way of opening gifts. It is fun to watch people open the gifts you have given. It is neat to see the look on someone else’s face as you open their gift. And all proper thanks are exchanged in front of everyone. It is much more meaningful.

Sometimes I find myself approaching God (and my future) with that old fury of a child on Christmas morning.

I am aware that he longs to give me good things. Lately, I know with a new certainty that his plan for my life is what is best and what will bring me fulfillment and joy. But I am impatient. I don’t want to wait and let him slowly unwrap his plan in my life. I am shouting “get on with it already!”

Sometimes I grasp at the gift. Sometimes I pout as if he won’t ever give it. Sometimes I beg with that pathetic childhood whine. Rather grown up of me, eh? I am certain this is not what the scriptures mean when they talk about childlike faith.

And then it hit me. God wants to be the Giver. He wants to watch me watch his gift unfold. He wants me to receive (not grasp) the gift. He wants to prepare me to receive it. He wants to be God and he wants me to be the child. Dare I try and take that away from him?

It is like I can hear him saying, “Sarah, if you could just chill out I know you’re really going to like this (what I have planned for you) – let me give it to you, one piece at a time, in my time.”

What then is my role? Surely I shouldn’t just sit back and do nothing with my life. I still have to move forward. So what should I do now?

Pray. Prayer is where we learn to trust the Giver. Prayer is how we begin to open our hearts to all he has for us. Prayer is where he can prepare us to receive. Prayer is where the gift unfolds.

So today if you find yourself impatient or agonizing about your uncertain future, take a deep breath, quit grasping, and pray. Spend time in the presence of our gracious God. He longs to give you good things. Let go of the frantic, fierce, “need to know” pace with which we sometimes approach life. Let God be God. Receive.


Jennifer F. said...

Wow, great post. Thanks!

Sarah said...


A friend sent me this shortly after I sent out the reflection. It is beautiful!

"We should do as a loving person does when a friend comes with a gift, not looking at the friend's hands to see what the gift is, but looking with the eyes of love at the friend's loving heart. And this is what God's supreme, eternal, more tender than tender goodness wants us to do when he visits our soul."

--St. Catherine of Siena