Our life was in transition again. We had thought we would be settling in to Gainesville, but instead we felt led to downsize significantly and head west to train as church planters. And this decision just happened to be made during the fall holidays which meant that Christmas would be during a time when we were trying to get rid of most our stuff, not acquire more stuff.
Milt had given us a list of books he felt it would be beneficial to read/reread and while most were available in electronic format (remember: trying to have LESS stuff), some were older and less known and hadn’t been turned into an electronic book yet. This meant we needed to order them online (actual books cost more) and have them shipped to us.
Being somewhat practical, I asked RC for these books for my Christmas presents. Honestly, there wasn’t anything else I really needed, and I didn’t have any room for anything I might have wanted. Plus, I really wanted these books. I knew that the season we were going into was going to be very different from what we knew and I wanted all the help I could get.
Christmas morning rolled around and we were all ready to open our presents. Not only did I have a rather big package, but my others didn’t seem the right size for the books I had asked for either. Having a husband who loves surprises, though, I figured he had come up with some way to disguise my gifts seeing as I knew exactly what I was getting.
I didn’t know exactly what I was getting.
As I opened each package there was nary a book in sight. I got some movies, some Hobbit feet and Dr. Who socks (my always cold feet do love socks!) and a new set of cooking pots. I remember trying to hide my disappointment, but all I could think was, “I specifically asked for those books. I don’t understand.”
As I was cooking our Christmas breakfast (because we do presents first like civilized people – who can’t wait) the Lord started speaking to my heart.
“You do the exact same thing to Me.”
There wasn’t an ounce of condemnation. Just tenderness and love, but truth.
“You give Me the things you want to give Me. You give Me the things that are easy to give Me. You give Me the things that give you pleasure to give Me.”
“I want you to give Me what I ask you for.”
“When it is hard.”
“When it doesn’t seem like it will bring you any pleasure, or joy, or notice, or reward.”
“When it seems to cost you more than you anticipated.”
“When it takes everything you’ve got.”
I couldn’t have known at the time how necessary this lesson was, but the following season that the Lord took us through was filled with giving Him what He asked for. And He wasn’t asking for things that were easy or very fun to give. They were things that required a level of self denial we hadn’t experienced before.
And when I would hesitate, or resist, He would remind me of this conversation. Of what it felt like to be given what someone wanted to give me instead of what I asked for.
Of how those beautiful new pots were in a storage unit on the other side of the United States because they didn’t fit in our new purpose. (They literally didn’t fit in our travel trailer.) Of how so much of what I’ve tried to give Him over the years eventually got laid by the wayside because it didn’t fit with His purpose. It wasn’t how He does things. It wasn’t what He had asked for or truly wanted.
It was only what I wanted to give Him.
Saints, may we be a people who give the Lord what He asks for, not just what we want to give Him or are comfortable giving Him.
For, I have found that the true reward is in giving Him what He asks for. No matter the cost.