I celebrated my 41st birthday last week. When I say celebrated, it was more like tolerated. It’s inevitable that God puts people in our lives, who keep us humble, by presenting us with annual “joke gifts.” I have received countless gifts from friends, family and former students, who seem to find great humor in my age, and the effects that age has had on my body. A couple of years ago, my brother gave me a “bald man’s hairbrush” for Christmas. It had no bristles, just a flat board. However, on the bright side, it was made out of cedar, so I threw it in my closet to keep the moths from eating my sweaters. This past week, a couple of my former students, chipped in their financial resources to buy me a $2 hair re-growth product, for my birthday. I blessed a friend of mine by giving it to him absolutely FREE!!! Last year, I again, had some students pool their money to purchase me a hearing aid, pill dispensers, hair growth treatments (see a pattern?...like male pattern baldness), denture adhesive and cleanser. I took it all back to Wal-Mart, and walked out $30 richer!!!
Most people, I know, enjoy receiving gifts. I am no different. But let’s be honest, there are times when we receive gifts that we just don’t want or like. In addition, you have likely gifted unwanted gifts to others as well. For instance, one year for Christmas, I gave my older brother a mouse pad (I know…a mouse pad is so obsolete…but this was like 10 years ago) with my picture on it…I know right!? Who wouldn’t want that? To his credit, he still uses it…though I have to say it is a little creepy to see my face looking back at me from the side of his keyboard.
In John chapter 2, we encounter a story where Jesus goes to a wedding. While at the wedding, the wine runs out. This is a huge cultural faux pas. It could, perhaps, be seen as the equivalent of running out of wedding cake before I get any. Jesus does something amazing. He gives. He gives, not only, a “sign” of his deity, but also, he gives abundantly out of his abundance. He gives quality out of his greatness. It is thought that Jesus gives the financial equivalent of about $15,000 worth of wine to this wedding party, and likely, the wedding party didn’t even know he had given it.
How often, do we miss the gifts that we receive on a regular basis? Perhaps, we even notice the gifts, but we write it off as…ehhh…insignificant…perhaps even unwanted…or no big deal. Jesus has given us amazing gifts. In fact, he gives us gifts, so often, we may not even be aware. Food is a gift. Taste…is a gift. Have you ever thought what it would be like to eat, but not be able to taste? Sight is a gift. Music is a gift. Sweat is a gift. Could you imagine a hot summer day without the ability to sweat…and cool yourself off? Not to mention, everyone likes to be around sweaty people right!?
Grace. Grace is the greatest gift of all…and so often I think we take it for granted. I challenge you to take some time to slow down and reflect on the gracious gifts that the Lord has lavished upon us.