My son Joel celebrated his fourth birthday on Sunday. While he was opening his birthday gifts, I realized that he indeed, was a joy to watch.
There was a lot of build up to his birthday, mostly because his next oldest sister has been eagerly awaiting his birthday (and others in our family) because she is looking for it to be her turn to have a birthday. Joel was so happy for his birthday. You should have seen the smile on his face and his eyes light up when I sang happy birthday to him as he dressed for church that morning. Or, if you could have seen how happy he was when anyone wished him happy birthday during the day. Then came the presents…
Now, if you’ve ever watched children open presents you know there can be a VARIETY of reactions to gifts, and not all of them make a parent proud. But Joel made me proud and AND gave me an example to live up to. Our little Mr. Joel was so happy to receive his gifts. After opening a gift he would look at it, I mean really look at it, like he was savoring the gift. He wanted to know the details like what it was called or named, how it worked, and he even wanted to play with the gifts before he had opened them all. He ENJOYED his gifts.
I think he had so much joy because he had very few expectations. He knows about birthdays: family comes over to celebrate, cake is eaten, happy birthday is sung, and presents are given. But Joel didn’t have a specific list of what he wanted and was therefore genuinely thankful to receive.
Oh if we could all only stay that way!
But most of us begin to expect things and our expectations can make it hard to be genuinely thankful because, often, things do not live up to our expectations.
Matthew 7 says:
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Asking (or having expectations) in and of itself is not the problem. Matthew 7:7 encourages us to ask, seek and knock. But too often our opinions, expectations, or desires cause us to view what we receive as less than satisfactory or worse: unacceptable.
Matthew 7:11 tells us that just as earthly fathers, who are full of faults and all, can give good gifts to their children, how much MORE will our heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask.
But sometimes we forget this truth and instead we see anything less than the exact “bread” we expected to be a “stone.” Or its like we wanted halibut and instead received salmon so it may as well have been a snake for all we care. As if we are the expert and know better than God.
We let our expectations get in the way of receiving with joy the good gifts God give to us. We don’t trust God to give us good gifts, to work all things to good in our lives, to guide and direct our steps.
So how do we put this all together? How do we ask, seek and knock AND keep our expectations in check enough to TRUST that God is who scripture says: the good Father who will give good gifts?
Yup, I am leaving this post open-ended BECAUSE I would really like to hear how God is working and growing this in your life or share how you are struggling with this.
So, come on now, please share 🙂
P.S.- All of this leads my mind to a Part 2 (so to speak) on this topic for next week’s Wednesdays with Jillene. You should read Matthew 20:1-16 (The Workers in the Vineyard) and really think on it between now and then!