This past weekend, we celebrated my son’s third birthday. (Wow, that happened fast.) He’s still young enough that he didn’t quite know what was going on with the whole party in his honor thing and the presents. It was fun to watch him meticulously peel off the wrapping paper with no evidence of greed for what might be inside. And then when the gift was revealed, I loved seeing his delight at even the smallest present. (In truth, his favorite gift was a little plastic watch that plays the theme song from one of his favorite TV shows.)
I thought about how in a few years, he’ll have more expectations — particular gifts he’s hoping for, a certain type of cake he prefers, maybe even a different guest list. It’s bound to happen, because it’s human nature to form expectations. But, for now, he’s just taking delight in each part of the experience. I thought about the joy I experience right now in giving to my son — where every gift or small gesture is received with such exuberance.
That led me to ponder how God must feel when I set aside my expectations for what I want out of life and simply receive (with joy and gratitude) the gifts He gives. When, instead of writing up my “wish list,” I meticulously peel back the paper from what He has chosen to give me. When that happens, each gift is a moment of joyful discovery. Instead of questioning why certain gifts are absent, I can share in my Father’s delight as He lovingly gives me what He knows I need.
I wrote about this in my 2008 article, “He Says Yes.” At the time (three months before I met my now-husband for the first time), I really liked another guy, but it wasn’t working out. Pondering the closed door I was facing, I wrote:
“The problem is, I am not always (and perhaps am rarely) capable of choosing what is best for myself. I may see a stone and think it is bread. How foolish it must seem to God, when I beg Him for a piece of gravel. James tells us we can place confidence in our Father’s gifts, even when our limited perspective doesn’t allow us to see their true value.
“‘Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.’
“Perfect gifts come from God. The best thing I could procure for myself would not come close to what He can offer me. He doesn’t shell out ‘good enough’ gifts; His gifts are perfect.”
Those words proved to be so true. I know it’s not realistic to always respond to God like my 3 year old. But I think losing some expectations and embracing the mindset that my loving and omniscient God really does give good and perfect gifts frees me up to notice the beautiful things He’s doing and fully enjoy the ride. So you have my permission: Live today like you’re a 3 year old at a birthday party. (Just don’t overdo on the cake.)
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