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|Thursday, January 12, 2023
As the new year swallows up the last of this year’s Christmas memories, one story lingers.
Like many pragmatic folks, Emma's parents' stuff Christmas presents into empty household boxes: detergent, cereal, Amazon boxes, whatever happens to be around. It makes wrapping gifts like stuffed animals or plush slippers a bit easier. To the young, though, it can be confusing.
We watched three-year-old Emma tear the wrapping off one gift, revealing a box of trash can liners. Not fully understanding, she shouted, “Hey, Dad. I get my own trash can!” As she spoke, she had the nicest smile on her face. Emma was genuinely grateful for a gift she probably hadn’t expected—a garbage can.
After all the chuckles subsided—and the true gift was revealed—a question jabbed at me. Are we as grateful when God sends us gifts that don't look like the blessings we expected? Are we as apt to smile and be gracious when the gift doesn't feel like much of a gift?
Some of God's most awesome gifts come wrapped in packages we don't recognize.
When the distracted driver of a 66-passenger school bus slammed into the back of Diana's car, it didn't appear like much of a gift. The kids were in shock, Diana was in pain, and the car was totaled. Worst of all was the shoulder surgery Diana underwent. It temporarily immobilized Diana's arm, forcing her to change our baby boy's diapers using her teeth.
But many years later, we learned God used the drama of that experience to turn the bus driver's heart to Christ. She might never have come to faith apart from her implacable guilt.
I'm guessing someone reading this has come into their own "unexpected gift." Something you wish you could return or undo. Life looks grim, and the future seems dark. But Scripture promises, "Every good and perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights."
I dare you to be like Emma. Smile—and thank God for your "trash can." I promise you. There's a gift inside.
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