I’ve been reflecting on good gifts lately, what they say of the gift giver, and what they mean to those who receive them well. Gifts are presents without payment or expectation of any reciprocation. Our goal as a family is to be neither a stranger in giving them freely nor receiving them with appropriate appreciation.
Our RV had some water pressure issues when camped outside Flagstaff, Arizona, a couple of weeks ago. My husband called a repair technician who made time for us that same day. Within a few hours, he was dissecting the issue alongside my husband. His young son, who accompanied him to the site, played with our children during the service call and invited them to church. We were thrilled about the invitation.
When it came time to pay for the repair and the service call, the technician waived the entire debt. We were floored. Certainly, the financial blessing was an incredible gesture, but even more so was the training and encouragement he gave to my husband, the shared fellowship we had as two families sitting side by side in the church that Sunday, and the friendship we shared over both breakfast and lunch that same day and through text messages since.
Encouragement of another and the power of presence are both gifts the apostle Paul also wrote about when he was in chains. “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me…” (2 Timothy 1:16-17, NASB)
While there are hundreds of gifts from God and the Holy Spirit that could be named, I have been reflecting lately on the gifts Jesus gave us during his 33 years on earth alongside us.
I was once separated from God due to my own sin, an unfortunate result of being born human and a willful result of my independence and pride. God could not overlook my sin because God is holy and demands justice for every gross alteration or representation of the good and beautiful world and order he made. But because God is also merciful and unfailing in His love, He sent His son to be born of a virgin, to spill his human blood and atone for my sin – all the ways I fall short of what can only be described as the glory of God himself.
Jesus did this willingly. He suffered willingly and died first. He let the human race abuse and mock him and prayed for and loved those ignorant of their sin when they did so. After he defeated Satan’s ultimate weapon – death – when he rose from the dead, he left two gifts for his followers when he returned to Heaven.
First, he gave us the Holy Spirit, who indwells us. No longer does mankind have to discover the truth of God through a messenger of God – neither a priest nor prophet is required to hear His voice. The Holy Spirit wills and works within believers to make us more like Jesus and speaks to the unbeliever in the still, small voice of one’s conscience.
And then there was His peace.
“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27, NLT)
The peace Jesus promised was the word Shalom, which means peace, completeness, wholeness, and harmony. The estate he left for us while we wear skin and bone was the peace the Son of God himself had, the kind that completely trusted the love of God the Father and bravely bore the difficulty of this world and death on a cross so the glory of God might be revealed to a world He so passionately loves and longs to reach.
Oh, that I would trust God the way Jesus did! But wait, isn’t that what he is saying? That I can? Yes, that is what he is saying. When I know and see His glory, I can trust the love of God in all things. When I do, I will have the same peace of mind and heart that Jesus had.
The world cannot give this. The world offers distraction by way of temporal happiness or numbness by way of substance abuse. These things require no work to receive but also do not deliver. The peace Jesus promises can be yours through the gift of faith in God and the work of Jesus. As we grow in trusting His love for us, the peace in our hearts also increases.
Father, I often reflect on my emotions during a challenging time instead of Your character. That rabbit hole gets me nowhere and takes precious time from me. Today, I reprioritize my thought life. I choose to uphold Your glory above my pleasant experience. You are the only good, and You are always right. I trust Your peace to sustain my aching heart until You change my circumstances.
What primary emotions or thoughts are you sorting through or entertaining on repeat? Do you spend an equal amount of time reflecting on the character of God and furthering your relationship with Him? How might you discipline your time and thought life so that His peace is readily available to you when hardship comes?