Monday, November 25, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving to the Best Gift and the Best Giver of Good Gifts
I learned a long time ago that I talk too much. It started with the report card in second grade that was marked with the telltale notation: Talks when she should be listening. In other years the report card had a little blank for the teacher to fill in that said "Needs to work on: fill-in-the-blank and you guessed it, my blank usually said "talking." In fifth grade my teacher was Mrs. Mary Evelyn Clark whom I managed to adore despite the fact that she wrote on my grade report the words I could no longer ignore: Talks excessively. How embarrassing. And how true.
It therefore stands to reason that my relationship with God has been governed, to a great degree, by the same struggle. I have never really had any problem talking to God. I have always been a pour out your heart and bore you with the details kind of girl. I figured that God could wade through the junk to get to the real issues a lot faster than I could, so prayer for me was a lot of prattling, some crying, some more prattling, accompanied by some more crying...I think you get the idea.
And every year when Christmas or a friend or family member's birthday rolled around, I would get nervous. My budget was usually limited and my vision of what I would like to give was almost always limited as well. After years of purchasing things that left me feeling miserable and frustrated, I finally broke down and sent up a fully signed and endorsed (by me) petition to God regarding the whole gift-giving thing. It came in the form of a surrender. I raised the white flag, climbed down on my knees and said the big word, "H-E-L-P." And then I waited. That's really part of the miracle. That I waited. That I did not, once again, bombard the Holy One with details and instructions and requests. I waited. I know He heard me. He always did. The problem was that I almost always did not take the time to hear Him. I waited some more. I remember exactly where I was when this lengthy quiet exchange occurred. I was lying underneath the dining room table in our house in Temple Hills. It was my "prayer closet." Not a one of my four children ever thought to look for me there, so it was my private place where God and I worked a lot of things out (usually with me doing most of the talking).
I waited a long time. I am sure (knowing me like I do) that I probably grew impatient. After what seemed like FOREVER, I heard these words spoken to my soul, "If you LISTEN, I will show you what and how to give." Wow. That doesn't sound like rocket science to some of you, but it was revelation pure and simple to me. "If you LISTEN....." What a novel idea. But I had no idea how to LISTEN to God. I had always been too busy talking.
I could write not just a blogpost, but a whole book about the process God took me through to teach me how to listen, however I have to work around to my point sooner rather than later. Thankfully, I did (despite my sin, my stubbornness, and my unquenchable desire to have my own way) learn to listen. And let me tell you, when I have actually listened and heard and obeyed (gosh, I hate that word), I can always...not sometimes, but ALWAYS tell by what happens that God was and is right on target. For the most part, gift-giving is so different now. Please don't think I am some holier-than-thou amazing gift-giver because God will surely humble me as soon as I write this post...and I will be the person who gives you the gift that makes you roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders in disgust, and scurry to the store to return it as soon as possible. However, I want to go on the record to say that when I listen, He is faithful. In things great and small. If I have learned anything in these nearly sixty years, it is to give all the credit where credit is due.