I bought a new calendar for 2014 and I was looking through some of the old events that I was a part of from this past year’s calendar and it was remarkable. There were weddings (my precious daughter’s), and incredible trips (St. Croix for a grief retreat, Southern California for a Joni and Friends Leadership Retreat), and the official start of the Joni and Friends Volunteer Ministry in the Portland area!
Of course there were challenges, but though they seemed really difficult at the time, I look back at the calendar overall, and I’ve already forgotten about so many of those challenges. Looking back at 2013 and forward to 2014 has reminded me that the future is like an unwrapped gift; some of which you open and say, ‘I didn’t ask for this!” Often times, the malls are full of people exchanging their Christmas gifts. Sometimes of the gifts God gives us are unwanted gifts, like toothbrushes in a kid’s stocking, the trouble is, we can’t exchange them.
A few years ago I fell and wound up with fractured ribs, and that was definitely an unwanted event, but after I recovered I could see some of the blessings of that time. One of them was timing. If it had happened earlier, it would have put a lot more stress on my daughter who was finishing her Master’s degree. I also had to learn to walk with a cane, which has now really helped me to get around. In addition, I met some people who were in rehab at the time with whom I still keep in touch today.
A couple of weeks ago, some friends from the Ecola Bible School, planned to pick my friend and I up to go to the Tryad conference at Cannon Beach. Because of the snowy weather, we needed to take a Greyhound instead. It was inconvenient and nerve-racking. But now I know I can do it!
The disappointment that comes along with unwanted gifts can be a joy-zapper. But when you bring young dissatisfaction to God, He’ll help you to accept your circumstances so you’ll be free to experience hope again; the hope of better things to come! It is kind of like being in a dark tunnel; when you are in it, it’s even hard to see a few feet in front of you. All you know is that you have to keep going, not even knowing where you are headed all of the time. When you do make it through that tunnel, you are blessed with the beautiful view of the cherry blossoms on the trees, or the roses and lilacs that cover the hillside.
It is the unwanted gifts that get us ready to experience the best ones! The grief retreat I went to in St. Croix is an example of that. People who are not in touch with their own grief cannot teach or help others through theirs. If you are reeling from an unwanted gift, just wait and see how God turns it into a treasured gift. We need to trust the gift-giver, not just the gift itself. Whether or not we asked for that gift, God promises that he gives good gifts, and we can trust in that promise!
Matthew 7: 10-12 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”