Things I’ve learned from Killing Consumerism #10 – The joy of receiving

I’ve always loved receiving gifts, but I’ve noticed over the last few years that the enjoyment has worn off. I loved the thrill of being surprised with something I really wanted, but, as I got older, I found that people seemed to miss the mark. I slowly, and somewhat cynically, lowered my expectations.

Just this week, I suddenly realized why.

I had lost the art of wanting, and so had lost the joy of receiving. It is dizzying to think of the speed at which I purchased things to meet my every whim. Before anyone had time to think to buy something for me, I had already bought it for myself.CJ3JXUcWoAAZIaE

This year has been different. At first I noticed it slowly: the joy of a beautiful candle as a housewarming gift; two friends who bought me a necklace because they knew I wouldn’t buy it myself. But then, on Friday night, it all hit home with sparkling clarity.

I was out for dinner and got a text from mum saying they’d bought me something. I dropped past their house on the way home.

They’d bought me Harper Lee’s ‘new’ book, Go set a Watchman. I was thrilled, and touched and blessed. And suddenly it hit me. If it weren’t for my resolution this year, I would have pre-ordered the book before it even hit the shelves. In holding back, and depriving myself, I’m creating room for others to bless me. And I’m rediscovering the joy of receiving.

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Does God Only Give Good Gifts?

During a time that I was very sick, a friend told me that ‘God doesn’t want you to be sick,’ and that ‘God only gives good gifts.’

I wrestled with this for a long time. I struggled with the passage in Matthew 7 which says “Which of you fathers, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?… How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” I read Psalm 84:11 which says “…no good thing doe he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” and I wondered why God was holding out on me.1050853_30933761

If God is good, and gives good gifts, why do I hate so many of the things He gives me? Either God does not always give good gifts, or my perception of what is ‘good’ is warped.

I’ve come to believe the latter. So often my perspective is confined to the here and now. I look at my circumstances and what God has given me, and feel that they really aren’t all that good. However, when my perspective doesn’t line up with that of scripture, it’s me who needs to change.

Sometimes God gives us things that are hard to bear, but if we trust His word, we can see that ultimately He works ALL things together for our good. He is good and he gives good things, sometimes it’s us who need to recognize that what is ‘good’ does not always feel gratifying now.

Money: When the Empty Cup Runneth Over

I know it’s not considered polite to talk about money. But I’m not entirely a stranger to the art of openly talking about social taboos, so today’s blog is about money.

I was talking last night to a friend about that amazing paradox that she and I and many others have experienced: that the more you give to God, the more you seem to have.

SAMSUNG TECHWIN DIGIMAX-340I’m not talking in some form of spiritual metaphorical jargon. I have actually personally experienced that sense of confusion on realizing that the numbers just don’t seem to add up. That there must be more money going out than coming in, and yet, somehow, my cup runneth over.

One of the best lessons that my parents taught me from a young age was to give first to the Lord. Not first when I think of it, or when I can afford it, or when I ‘feel led,’ but first every time. First when I can’t afford it. First when it means sacrifice.

I do not give in order to receive. I give as a reflection that God comes first in my life. And yet the amazing paradox is that somehow, the more I give, the more I seem to have. And I know it’s not just me.