Gifts

Today is not a holiday. 

It’s not a time of gathering around the table and consuming some predetermined beast that was unfortunate enough to be born on a farm. It’s not a night where some talking head insists we demonstrate the ability to perform question two of a sobriety check from the comfort of our homes or local pub. It isn’t a day to sit in a poorly air conditioned building, trying not to itch too obviously, while peering curiously around a purple pasted hat with a fake, white bird precariously perched on it. In fact it’s not even a day where one can expect sweet rewards for pretending to be someone they are not. 
It is a gift giving holiday, however. It may be one where someone you love (and can only hope feels similarly about you) has full intention, if not a formed plan, to present you with something. Some.      Thing. Some object of value, perhaps not based upon its intrinsic value, but on the amount of care selecting it from the any hundreds of things you could receive or give. But what gift to give? 

There comes a point in every giving situation where a choice must be made. Will this gift be handmade or store bought? This is a moment where ability meets the reality of economics and age meets expectations. At some point every person of a mind to gift someone something the giver must decide the careful calculation of the cost of time, money, effort, and perception of the recipients general attitude. This might include thoughts along the lines of:

“The last gift I gave, he never used….. At least not in front of me”

“What did she give me last time?”

“What day is this? (Checks phone calendar application) rent isn’t due until later so I’ve got time to replace this money”

“I’m out of money…. What can I make him?”

There seems to be a very special moment that no one notes in a diary or journal. Where the phrase, “I love it because you gave it to me,” takes an otherwise normal gifting occasion on a sideways trip to weird town USA  

That is the moment you decide if you’re going to give another clay ashtray to someone who doesn’t smoke anything or a handprint turned wildly colored turkey. Where you choose if the gift you really want to give is up to the standard of a store bought ashtray. Decide if investing in a large yet-to-be-formed lump of clay to be formed is a better and more thoughtful gift that 

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I don’t know….

Ecclesiastes 11:5
Today, we are more connected than ever before when you consider the ready availability of the internet, wifi enabled equipment, social media platforms, 24 hour news cycle, town gossips, and online news sources.  Very little occurs now that doesn’t get noticed by a camera, cellphone, videographer, or newsman. Privacy is not even available in any public places or private. The mysteries of the depths of the ocean are fast becoming known and considered old-hat. The lenses which we fit on Hubble and SETI have effectively removed so much of the unknown from our visions of the eternal beyond the moon, it’s actually a shock when we see or hear something that is new. So little is considered new and a first it will often become the headline on the six o’clock news and then immediately be relegated to the back page as a casual interest. 

Nothing is new under the sun and you can’t tell me anything is new because it’s all been said before. Conceptually and perhaps even medically I am fully aware of how the bones in the human body knit and expand in density. Books exist that explain just how the child forms in the womb and how the movie was made by seeing the behind the scenes featurette. 

But then I read Ecclesiastes 11 and all of that goes out of the window. 

The writer of this passage is not trying to get us to understand that even if we look hard under a microscope we should disbelieve what our eyes tell us. The writer of this passage is not saying that with a well attuned ultrasound the millions of changes that occur to a fetus will not be plain to all. It is not simply DNA deciding to twist this direction and that, or the blood flowing through that arterie or another. It’s more dazzlingly glorious than witnessing the upturned thumb being thrust into an open mouth or twins who embrace in the womb before they can even see. What is the incredible and inexplicable source of creation to the glory of God is the true mystery. Why would God form us in his image? Why would he look at us and say that is it’s good? What the writer is saying that the powerful gift and breath of life from God is what truly makes the bones coalesce into a complex dance of sinu, marrow, and cartelange forming a whole system of structural support for a human body. But that the reasons behind all of that are a mystery to us. 

The motivation of God to create is not for us to understand. It’s not for us to “get” why He would be so interested in seeing us enter into relationship with each other and Him. It is not for us to know what designs the creator of all has in his mystical trestle-board, upon which the designs of all that ever was, is, and will be is drawn. 

I know it’s disappointing but there really are some things we aren’t supposed to know. It flies in the face of our own perceived greatness. Perhaps it’s because we assume we are to be in dominance over the earth rather than in dominion. Maybe we should read Genesis again….

In due season and as God knows our young minds can absorb, I am sure of one thing: God will reveal. He is not a god of confusion or disorder. He gives us the wisdom and foresight to make choices and love and grow. He gives us so much, how dare we be so arrogant to suggest that we deserve to know more than he already has shown us about his plans and designs for us? I am sure that if we could handle the truth, as someone once said, it would be shown to us. But who’s to say it hasn’t already been shown us? Perhaps we were shown the truth and we misused it. Abused it. Refused to be held account for it. Perhaps even refused it. Maybe God wants us to learn more about ourselves before he gives us even more to absorb. God knows we’ve found spectacular ways to waste good knowledge after bad. Imagine if we knew how He thinks too? I’m reminded of the line in the sand at the base of mount Sinai that God told the Israelites not to cross or die. And when they wanted to see God only saw a small portion of him hidden by meteorological fury. That was enough to tell me that some people can handle the face of God and most others can not. I think I’m in the latter camp. 

God, I ask that you make me content in you. That you grow me to understand nothing and trust in none but you. I ask that you limit my vision to you and that anything else that whorl compete for attention that should be yours alone, gets away  and finds parts unknown. I ask that how you think be your understanding alone. That you remove arrogance from me and that your children on this world find contentment and peace in your vision, love, omnipotence and omniscience. Amen