Friday, May 02, 2008

It's All a Gift

What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7).

The final out was my cue. The game ended and that meant it was time for me to make my way to the dugout to distribute the ever popular post-game snacks.

“Dad, do I get a snack too?”

I knew my answer would be yes. My daughter had done a good job of entertaining herself, romping around Chastain without making it too hard for me to keep an eye on her and her brother’s game at the same time. But the team got their snacks first. That’s just the way it works.

So after the team had plundered the Publix bag and taken what they wanted, my daughter surveyed what was left and chose a bag of mini-Oreos. After a moment or two I said to her, “Hey Anna, those look pretty good. Can I have some?”

She pulled the little sack close to her chest and thought for a moment. Finally, with notable reluctance, she said “Well . . . I’ll let you have a little one.” Keep in mind these were “mini” Oreos. How little do they get? I laugh at the idea of searching for the smallest mini-Oreo. And I laugh at our inclination to take what is a gift and grasp it to ourselves, fearful of losing what was never truly ours to begin with.

Your life is a gift; all 100% of it.

The 5% is a gift: the community of God’s people, the small groups, the Bible studies, the programs for your children, the weekly worship, the music, the scriptures. These are God’s gifts to us.

And the 95% is also a gift: The work we do, the families we live with, the ability to swing a golf club and read a book, the daily opportunity to taste food and meet a friend over coffee, the unfamiliar and unexpected. These are God’s gifts us.

The journey of these past weeks, what we’ve called “My95,” has been an exploration of what it means to take the life that’s been given to us and give it back to God. Today ends the “my95” series, but next week you’ll continue to go to work and tend to your families and plan for summer vacation. Your 95 never stops.

Often, unintentionally and without malice, we cling to the life we’ve been given as if God wants to deprive us of something. Life comes to us as a gift, but for some reason we fear the giver. We pick through the pieces of our life, like a bag of cookies, looking for smallest one, choosing what we can give to God that won’t threaten us and leave us lacking. In the fear and grasping we end up with less than God intends. Less joy, less life.

Paul asked a good question of the church in Corinth. What do you have that you did not receive? The implied answer is “nothing.” All that we have was given. And the key to living “my95” every day is to wake up and recognize the gift that meets you as you open your eyes and draw breath into your lungs and place your feet on the floor.

Receive the gift of each day - and then give it back. The whole thing; all 100%. As we learn to do this God gets glory and we get life abundant; the very life Jesus came to give us. Thanks be to God!

Gracious God, I thank you for the gift of my life and every detail that makes life what it is: the work, the places, the people. Strengthen me today by your Spirit that I might offer back to you what you have given to me in your mercy and love. I want to live this day and every day to your glory. Help me to do so I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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