Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

The Gift

   Boy do I love gifts?!! How about you? I can get pretty excited over them. I remember as a child how enthused I would be around Christmas time. My older sister (you know who you are, Gail) and I can recall one Christmas when we were bent on finding the presents our mom had bought us. She knew us..so she knew she would have to hide them well. But we kept searching. We finally found the radios she had purchased for us. Ah the sweet joy of discovery! Which was then quickly followed by the guilt of having spoiled the surprise our mom had intended for us on Christmas morning. But I digress.

   Back to gifts…I love them. But, would you think with me about a special gift…one which, at first blush, doesn’t really seem to fit in this category? The Apostle Paul brings it to our minds. As he wrote the Philippians (1:29), he reminds them of two special gifts they had been granted. That word “granted” has grace in it. The two gifts he is about to mention had been “graced” to the believers. The first gift was their faith. Faith is not an achievement on our part. It is a gift God has graced us with. And it requires that we be willing to receive it. And aren’t we glad to be believers? Don’t we wish everyone would be? Think of the difference God has made in your life through His priceless gift to you of believing.

   But then Paul goes on to speak of the other gift. He says that it had been graced to them to suffer on Christ’s behalf. My first inclination is to tell God, “Thanks for the faith, but no thanks to the suffering.”  One out of two isn’t bad. But the fact is that it does not and cannot work that way. When, in love, you put your trust in someone…you are gifted/graced with relationship. And real relationship has a whole-ness about it. By that I mean artificial limits do not apply. You don’t think…okay now…you and I will be friends on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays…or we will be movie-going friends but not dinner-eating friends. When we begin the adventure of relationship, we are forced to do so largely in ignorance. If we were to coldly calculate all the potential costs of the relationship beforehand, we likely would never begin. And we would be cheated out of one of life’s greatest privileges…to share another human’s life. If we dwelt on all the hours of listening we would incur…if we thought only of the lost sleep or of  those times when we would deny ourselves in order to please the other…if we could only factor the extra money, time, energy and emotion required by relationship…again, we probably would not make a start. The problem with this kind of cold, cost analysis is that it fails to take into account…in fact, cannot really assess…how one’s motivation level increases exponentially as the relationship lives, grows and thrives. And all the things that once upon a time, you might have put into a minus column…are not minuses. They are important aspects of relationship which are willingly embraced. They are not counted as sacrifices, though technically, they are just that.

   When you love someone…part of it…one of the “gifts” of relationship…is that what disturbs them, disturbs you. What disappoints them, gets to your heart also. Whatever or whoever would seek to harm them, seeks to harm you. If they are endangered, you warp into full rescue mode. If they need something, you would try to move heaven and earth on their behalf. You go to the hospital and wait through long hours of surgery or illness because you can’t do anything else…you can’t be anywhere else. You hold a hand through the watches of the night…you hit your knees to beseech God’s help…you do research…you find money…you beg and plead and cry and hope and wonder and wait and wait and wait. Another “victim” of relationship. There’s nothing like it…and you wouldn’t trade places with anyone else in the universe. That’s the magic…the grace…of love in relationship.

   So, of course, Paul is right. It is a gift to suffer on behalf of the beloved when such times come. And this is supremely true of the One Who has become our All in All. Love leaves us, as it did Him, no choice we would ever consider. What a gift!

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6 thoughts on “The Gift

  1. You know it made me think when Doug said Faith is not something achieved on our Part. It is a Gift God has Graced us with if we are willing to receive it. I think Faith comes to be more strong in our lives as we journey here and life happens and we see thru prayers and so much more how God has been there for us.
    It causes my Faith to increase even thru the sufferings of Jesus and what he went thru for us and our people we have so loved in this life that have went thru things as they lived and died here that we loved so much. And we don’t know everyone like the relationships we are close to and we suffer more because of those close personal things we have gone thru with them and lived life around them.
    We care with others about their problems and when they leave this earth but nothing like the people that we know so much persoanlly, nothing like all their familiar things to us. That is why it hurts so much when something happens to that relationship. We miss all those sweet memories of them. That is where more suffering happens, missing them so much. But so glad on the other hand to have had the precious time with them that we did. Because there was ups and downs but in the end there is a Great Love for them and remember the good times. I am thankful for relationships in my life and I have come to be closer to them over the years that I could just burst today with the Blessings that God gave me – THEM.

    Doug I do remember that Christmas when we got the Radios. We even thought we heard Santa going over the house and Mom always made sure we had a nice Christmas even though we was little stinkers finding out what she got us before Christmas Day.
    Mom always wanted to please her children and was excited at Christmas and Birthdays for us. I don’t think she ever missed a one. Sis Gail

    • oakesclan on said:

      Ah the memories. They mean a lot to us, don’t they, sis? I’m glad to be your brother. God richly bless you and Jesus give you peace in believing.

  2. Email girl on said:

    I love that I understand that love you’re talking about. I have it for my kids but I can’t really say I had it for anyone but them for a long time…that is until God blessed me with some incredible friends whom I love. When they hurt, I
    physically hurt with them. When they are worried I worry with them. When they celebrate I celebrate with them. Words don’t really express it….I feel what they are feeling deep down in my gut and I can’t help but let it out. It’s so wonderful a gift to suffer for someone else….it really is. Thank you for showing me today that I’m normal. Sometimes I think that it’s not normal to be so absorbed with another person. Now I see that it’s really just a gift God gave me. I’ll thank Him for that gift today.

    • oakesclan on said:

      It is a gift, isn’t it, email girl? Not one that comes in frilly, colorful gift wrapping. No. Rather it is attended by deep sighs, serious thoughts, constant concern, prayers, tears, agonizing over how to be helpful in any way. When our beloved suffer, life cannot go on in the usual way. It just can’t. We change our schedule and our agenda in order to try to be some kind of help. If we were convinced that something we had or something we knew or something we could do would help in even the least way, we will do all in our power to deliver it. This is how it is with lovers. It is a gift reserved for lovers, after all. God bless you.

  3. The gift to suffer for someone else is so closely wrapped up in compassion. If we have that “common passion” with someone…we feel what they feel…we hurt/rejoice/suffer/smile when they do. I wish that I had this compassion with more people than I do. But I love the fact (like email girl) that God has given me some wonderful friends and along with them came this gift to feel what they feel. I cry countless tears over their sorrows and sufferings. I laugh and smile all day when they have victories, no matter how small they might be. It is a real blessing to know these folks well enough to know their feelings.

    The cool thing? God knows every single one of us that well. He feels our suffering, our rejoicing, our sadness and our delight. He is not some distant puppet master that just pulls our strings to get a reaction. He is a loving Father. He has compassion and the ultimate empathy. Jesus became flesh and was tempted in every way…He knows how we feel.

    I like how you said it Doug…love leaves us no choice that we would even consider. I wouldn’t change things, even if I could!!

    • oakesclan on said:

      Yes…it is a matter of compassion. It comes straight from our Lord Whose mind we are to replicate within us. He didn’t seek His personal interests. Instead, He thought of others…of us. And this moved Him to leave so much behind in order to take upon Himself the sufferings of us all. And we hadn’t asked this of Him. We didn’t know what we needed. But He did. He volunteered. We were broken. We couldn’t function as true human beings. He repaired our hearts and as we begin to see some of all He has done and is doing for us, we must reciprocate. The abuse heaped upon Him is not His alone. Love makes it ours. His fight is our fight. His goals…our goals. His way…my way. He is too wonderful to ignore. We must be in relationship with Him. And it is much more than worth whatever is called for from us.
      I like the God you accurately described in your second paragraph. And I appreciate His affect on you, especially as seen in your embrace of the sufferings of others. May God help us keep moving to the side of those who suffer that we may know the fullness of true relationship.
      God bless you, Sherry. Thanks for checking in.

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