Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

Is The Gift Really Free?

Haven’t we all had gift-givers in our lives whose gifts we would have preferred to return unopened? And why was that? Not primarily because we didn’t like the gift itself…it was the strings attached. We had learned that a simple “thank- you” wasn’t going to be nearly enough. The acceptance of the gift meant that we were under obligation to the giver. And I’m not talking about proper obligation…to truly be grateful and to take good care of the gift, etc. I’m speaking rather of those persons who sought some sort of control over our lives by means of their gift. As soon as it became clear to us that some sort of manipulation was afoot, we wanted nothing to do with it. And those that held their gift, or the possibility of a gift, over our heads in order to exact their desired response from us were teaching us the opposite of what gift-giving is really about.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8). Perhaps we can understand how it is for many people reading or hearing of this “gift” of God that it doesn’t bring them the joy it should. They roll their eyes and begin looking for the hook. Maybe this is because of their background, or, maybe this is because of us religious folk who have an ability to attach our own agendas to salvation. This results in the twisting and perverting of the priceless and free gift of salvation from God into a complex system of works and control which drains the life right out of people. And they end up thinking that not only have they failed in life, but now God has failed them too. Tragic!

But with all of that said, true gifts nevertheless do (and are supposed to) evoke a response from the receiver don’t they? And it’s not legalistic manipulation at all! Wonderful and precious gifts obligate us. A baby is an amazing gift to a new mom and dad. But my…how life changes after the infant’s arrival. Sleepless nights. Exhausting days. Unanticipated concerns. Doctors. Diapers. Feedings. Washings. Reviewing insurance policies. Continued child-proofing of the home. And, etc., etc.! But all of these, though they bring real pressures, are the obligations of love willingly accepted, graciously fulfilled and left uncounted.

God’s amazing, priceless gift of salvation in Jesus Christ is absolutely free to us! The offer of it to us is entirely by the wondrous grace of God. But it is impossible to estimate the cost and the value of this gift! When we receive it in penitence and humility…with ever-increasing love and deepening gratitude…we are never the same again.

And I was just wondering…as I am here in Ohio on a beautiful, warm, sunshiny day…would you please tell me something His love got out of you that you would have never dreamed possible? And as you share you will be helping us who read to appreciate even more the magnitude of His priceless free gift of salvation which we are glad of heart to admit has place us under a most wonderful loving obligation.

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8 thoughts on “Is The Gift Really Free?

  1. Great post, dad. We have so often blurred the lines about this gift haven’t we? It’s so easy to put the cart before the horse and try to make salvation merit-based? When we accept the gift and meditate on its priceless nature…God draws His love out of our lives…a love we didn’t know was there. I think this is the process in 1 John by which God’s love is made COMPLETE in us.

    Though I am only in the beginning stages of seeing His love drawn out of me…I am seeing it in the illustration you put forth about taking care of my babies. I think it began when I married Kelly…but it has taken on a new meaning with Remi and Rilyn. I can confidently say that I (for the most part) have delighted in serving all of my girls whether that means loss of sleep or household chores to make a life a little easier on Kelly…generally speaking…just losing sight of myself in response to the vision(s) that are before me now. Having been given these precious gifts, I understand more fully THE GIFT that the Father gave us. These experiences take our understanding to such a different level that I wonder (sometimes) what I ever really understood to begin with. This is how I know I am only in the beginning stages of seeing His love drawn out of me.

    • oakesclan on said:

      I agree with the Apostle John when he said he had no greater joy than to hear of his children walking in the truth. But it has been one of my greatest joys to watch our children fall in love and marry and have children of their own. I’ve marvelled over each one. I have watched you being a husband and daddy. I anxiously waited through the years for this to come to your life…because I knew what your coming to my life did to me…how God used you to bless your mother and me…how He taught us the most amazing lessons through you and your siblings. And now He has renewed the classes as we watch you with yours (as we have opportunity). We are reminded of precious truths. We catch things we missed the first time. We wonder over love’s strength…at its willingness to accept any challenge…at its day and night devotion…at its uncounted sacrifices…and the like. These precious gifts God has given you have each changed your life forever. And though sometimes you are so weary…and though sometimes the sense of responsibility you have is so great…and though sometimes you don’t feel wise enough or strong enough for the challenge…you wouldn’t go back to the way things were before for anything anyone could offer. As your dad, it’s a real privilege to witness your home being built with God by you and Kelly. And to realize that all you feel in your heart for your beloved, God feels in His great heart to an even greater degree for you…for yours…for all His children. These truths send our hearts into a sort of ecstasy of faith for which we will praise, honor and serve Him all our lives long.
      You and yours are beloved of Him…of me…of your mother…and the list goes on and on.

  2. His love for me … and gifts of friendship that He placed in my life … taught me to love in a way that I never knew I could … unselfishly.

    I grew up with strings attached to everything. I never felt like anything was given “just because” it was always in order to gain something … or to have something to hold over me. Because of this I quit trusting relationships. I would give enough to keep them going … but I didn’t feel capable of truly trusting someone … loving them.

    I was diagnosed, by a counselor, with a disorder that said as much. It labeled me as someone that was incapable of attachment and said I was to live a life of isolation. I agreed with this label … and actually liked the label. It defined me … I knew how to act because of it … and it excused me from looking into the issue any deeper.

    I spoke with another counselor who completely disagreed with this label and began to teach me about myself. Through a lot of hard work and willingness to trust, God used this counselor to teach me about love without strings attached. I never knew there was such a thing. I now understood why I had a hard time loving, and accepting love.

    I learned to love a person the way they need to be loved … not how I want to love them. I learned to not be jealous of someone else’s attention toward someone I love. I am learning to just be happy someone is loving them in a good way, in a way I’m not able to.

    It’s amazing how many times I have been unwilling to love someone the way they need to be loved … and yet I will be jealous of someone that is willing and capable of that love.

    This giving freely idea is still tough to accept … when so many seek to attach strings. But I’m learning it is well worth getting through the tough part in order to receive the gift in the way it was intended.

    His love “got out of me” a love that is immeasurably more than I could have imagined.

    • oakesclan on said:

      I’m glad for what His love got out of you…and I look forward to the glimpses I may get in the future about what His love may yet bring out of your heart for Him. But even from this distance, I see something of the blessing for others that God is bringing through you.
      And I’m very grateful that your journey didn’t end with the first counselor’s diagnosis. Inherent in the life God puts within us, is the capacity…the need, whether we realize it or not, for sharing. I think that’s the point God was making when He declared it wasn’t good for humans to be alone. So it is good for humans to be in relationship. That doesn’t mean that it’s only good…because life in community is more complex than that. But it is worth whatever sacrifices are required. Sometimes we can only say that, or live by that, in faith. Because sometimes it hurts bad. But we can’t truly love until we get close enough to hurt for someone. I think that’s what brought Jesus to our world. So, we will do it too, by God’s grace. And the paradox is that we try to reach out from our “dangerous” vantage point of loving to make another feel “safe.” And we simply couldn’t do any of it, unless we, more and more, understanding we are “safe” with our Father God.
      I am glad, Paige, that you risk for love. In this too you remind me of Him.

  3. Gail on said:

    I love that God is a Gift-Giver (His Son was the Greatest Gift) we all know.
    Don’t comprehend that Great-Gift as good as I would like to but as I grow older in life I hope I get it better. With that Gift it should spur us on to great things and sometimes I get stuck in little things because I am human (don’t like it though). I am a gift-giver and I love to do things for family, friends and people I love and those who have been good to me and my family. If I had to live and just get all the GUSTO I could for me only I would be very miserable. I do have the heart God gave me to do for others as I can. The Gift of God giving so freely and only wanting from us a relationship with him and after this life is over to be with Him. He really wants us with him. And while we are not with him in Heaven yet he wants us to be about the earth doing good and helping and sharing with those we can help. God said he wants us to Love Him w/all our Hearts and Love our brothers and neighbors as ourselves and do for them. There are a lot of people having a hard time right now and when we can we need to help them and not expecting anything back because they may not be able to pay back. I know sometimes that is hard to give and not expect something back. But it is called Random Acts of Kindness. God Loves a Cheerful giver.

    That is the only thing God wants back is us (not things) but US. ISN’T THAT AMAZING GRACE AND LOVE (WANTS US TO BE HIS AND WITH HIM). Sometimes I don’t even want to be around myself but he wants me with Him. I have to say it over and over to understand his love for me and all the world. ABSOLUTELY AMAZING TO ME (He wants me).

    • oakesclan on said:

      I know you are a gift-giver. You have been giving to me over all the years of your life. I’ve seen you give to others so often. Your heart has always been particularly sensitive to those you believed to be in need or disadvantaged in one way or another.
      This spirit comes from Jesus Christ, and it shines in you.
      And I agree with you…knowing myself as I do…the thought that HE wants me to be where He is because He loves us and wants us at home with Him is truly…absolutely amazing.
      Have a great weekend, Gail.
      Keep thinking noble thought of God.

  4. Email Girl on said:

    I’m learning a little something about gifts. I’m learning they are hard for me to give without some hidden meaning or agenda. It amazes me how God loves us and gives so freely.

    My counselor, in an effort to push me out of my comfort zone a bit, recently asked me to bring a “gift” for my inner child to my next session. You know of my rocky history…the necessity of this “gift” came because I have been unable to truly think on who I was as a child without feelings of guilt, hate, shame and animosity boiling up inside of me. The “gift” could be anything I wanted to give her. I decided I wanted to give her freedom and forgiveness…a pardon of sorts and decided to give it to her in the form of a letter. I struggled with writing it because I kept finding myself “giving” her things she couldn’t use or didn’t need. It took some time to dig down into my heart and find the REAL words I wanted to share with her….words I could give her from my heart. But once I found that spot…it came out effortlessly. God must never leave that spot…He must love us with ease. Thats one of the best lessons I could be learning right now.

  5. oakesclan on said:

    Dear E-mail Girl,
    The gift you gave that dear, damaged child, so very precious in His sight, was beautiful. Thank God He blessed you to find that special loving place in your heart and to speak to her from there. Sins against children are so hideous. We recoil at the horror of it…the injustice…the devastating long-term effects. It lifted my heart to read how, once you got through all the fences and reached that place in your heart, your words of loving encouragement, of freedom, of forgiveness came flowing out like a mighty refreshing river.
    I pray that little girl is able to breathe in your words…to take them into her innermost self…to fully accept and embrace them…and to find her innocent childhood again. For that belongs to her. It is her right…her gift from Father God. She is innocent. She is free. She is precious in His sight.
    Listen, to me, please…what you are writing is blessing us. The insights God is bringing to you are rich. I know they have come at such a terrible cost and pain. But you are letting Him use you for great blessing. I know that’s true. Your words inspired a hope within me today. I thank you for that…and I praise God.

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