Accepting the Gifts
I really don’t know what possessed me to do it. Earlier in the day, my wife had mentioned something that rankled me. I didn’t want to deal with it, and even when I did face it, I didn’t know what to do with it. Whether I faced it or not, though, this thing left a gnawing at the back of my heart, this anxiety that wouldn’t go away and sapped the life out of everything else I did. This anxiety flavored everything that I tried from writing emails to reading to prayer to watching old sci-fi television shows. I just wanted it to go away.
I didn’t think about it, even after that other post, but I had been given a gift. I didn’t want it. I didn’t ask for it. But I got it, and I was trying to get it away from me. This wasn’t something that was given to me; this was something that just happened to me! Right? Well, I suppose they’re sort of the same thing if you really believe in a sovereign God.
I suppose I should go back and note the fact that not everything is a gift from God. God doesn’t send everything that happens, but He does allow everything that happens. We live in a fallen world where fallen creatures and a fallen nature are destructive, and sometimes what we are given is from those sources, and it can be destructive in a way that we are not capable of dealing with. However, that’s not everyday experience. We can live under anxiety and stress. We can live with colds and lost jobs and insults. Those things aren’t ultimately destructive. And those are the things that God can use. Those are the gifts.
Like I said, I don’t know what possessed me. I was in the kitchen, still feeling anxious and troubled, and all of the sudden, I found myself praying. I can’t even remember why. I think I may have just been reading through a noon devotional, but I honestly can’t recall. Whatever the impetus, I’ll chock it up to the Holy Spirit. There in the kitchen, I suddenly started thanking God, and the words that came out of my mouth were to thank Him for even the anxiety that was running through me because I knew that whatever it was, He was using it for something worthwhile and I trusted Him for that. I had hardly finished the sentence before a wave of emotion washed over me, and I just sat down on the floor, crying a bit and letting whatever it was run through me. And when I stood up again, the anxiety was gone.
Somehow, in the middle of things, I accepted the anxiety. I didn’t try to get rid of it or deny it. I just accepted that even though I didn’t like it and didn’t want it, I’d take it. I didn’t want the gift, and I didn’t even really see the gift as something from God in that moment, but I decided to accept it anyway. And in the act of acceptance, the unwanted gift became… well, perhaps not wanted, but at least okay. And maybe that was what was behind it in the first place – to remind me to accept whatever comes from the Father’s hand. Godliness with contentment is great gain, or so they say. I suppose by “they”, I mean Paul. (Does he count as a “they”?)
“Every good good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (Jas. 1:17, NASB) But just because it’s given doesn’t mean that it’s accepted. Though we are not the ones who bring about our spiritual formation, we do play a part in it, and much of that part is accepting what God is working in our souls. I suppose this was just a reminder that that includes the parts we don’t want or like.