Living in Utah was one of the most amazing experiences for my family. Not only did we really dive into our faith life, but as we looked around us, there was nothing but the beauty of God’s creation. Lush mountains, green trees, open air, rushing waters and God’s animals roaming the land – God surrounded us with his creations. I guess it is thinking back to this moment in time, that stimulates the origins of my faith life. Life was not always picture perfect (and it still has its moments). Life was usually a battle for me. I made poor, selfish choices in my late teens and twenties which led me down a path of self-destruction. I found myself seeking the love of others, not God’s love. I found myself lonely even though I was surrounded by “friends.” I found myself always trying to be liked and needed by others. I worked and worked at being a good friend, but yet I always fell short.
When I met my husband, Peter, my life slowly changed. It wasn’t instantaneous; it was more a slow progression. I began to turn my life back to God. My selfish desires still haunted me, but I allowed God to slowly overtake those desires and replaced them with His love.
The desire to understand why I turned to God has always intrigued me. I guess because I want to share that desire with others. I want others to see that no matter where their pathway in life has turned, they can still choose God. Why would they want to do that? Because selfishness and materialism and the desire to be liked by people can only get you so far. You can invent whatever personality you want (so that people will like you), but God knows the true you. And until you let your true self be visible to all, you will always be on a mission for popularity. That mission will cause you a lot of misery and heartache. Trust me. I know. Being well liked is not why we were placed on this earth.
When I finally allowed myself to see past my selfishness, I realized that there was so much more for me. It is a gift from God. I could choose to keep that gift closed all my life and always wonder what was in it. Or I could choose to open it, and take the peace and grace that He so desires for me. I wouldn’t let a present from Pete sit on the counter unopened. No way, I would rip that baby open! So, why on earth did I let God’s gift sit unopened for so many years? I guess that I thought His gift wasn’t good enough. Maybe I believed that His gift was something I already owned (which is far from the truth). Maybe I just took it off the counter (so I couldn’t see it) and set it in a corner; forgetting about the entire present.
Now that’s hurtful. How could I forget about God’s gift for me? I can tell you right now – I did. I pushed it aside and let myself believe that it wasn’t important. I let others tell me that the gift was foolish and stupid. I let God down.
So you can let God’s present sit by itself or you can open it. You choose. I can tell you that after I finally opened it – and it took years – I realized that there was no other way to live. Peace when I felt anxious, joy through struggles in life, hope that life had such a great meaning, confidence that I just needed God’s approval, and the desire to live out my faith to the fullest. What a gift! No person on earth (including myself) could ever provide me with that. No one.
This lent reflect on God’s gift for you. Have you opened it up? Or are you like me, you just pushed it aside and forgot all about it. Don’t wait open it up today! Ask God for the gift once again. This time rip that baby open and soak in the peace that God so wants for you today!
Matthew 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.