Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recognizing The Gift Given (James 4:1-3)

Reading this section of James reminded me of the phone conversation I had with my mother a few months after my Grandmother passed away.  In my Grandmother’s will everything was split evenly between my mother and her brother.  As my mom and I were talking, she mentioned some things to be given to extended family members.  When I asked if there was any mention of my siblings and I in the will and any thing she desired for us to have, my mother simply said, “no”.  

Surprisingly, I was upset.  And my mother knew it.  She pointed out that her portion of Grandma’s “stuff” would eventually be passed down to us three kids.  Of course I knew that, but what neither one of us could understand was why I was so upset about it.  I walked away from that phone call deeply hurt . . . and ashamed of myself! 

Thinking back on it now brings fresh tears.  My thoughts and behavior were so wrong, so selfish.  It made no sense.  I didn’t even want the things they were given!!!  
So what was the problem?  
Was it simply because I wasn’t getting anything right away?  
Was my heart really that ugly?  
Was I that selfish?  
What was it that I really wanted? 

“Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you.  You want things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight. You do not get what you want, because you do not ask God. Or when you ask, you do not receive because the reason you ask is wrong. You want things so you can use them for your own pleasures.”  
James 4:1-3 (NCV)

I wanted what I could not have.  What I would never have this side of heaven, now that she was gone.  Her approval.  I made choices she just did not understand and they frustrated her—disappointed her.  By not being singled out in her will in some way, I felt her rejection over my life’s choices to the full.  I did not want her stuff.  I wanted recognition.  I wanted a letter, a few words, something tangible to “prove” that she loved me.  She was proud of my brother, my sister, my cousins and what they were accomplishing with their lives.  I wanted to know she was proud of me. 

I wanted the pleasure of knowing that our relationship satisfied her—that I satisfied her!
I did not get what I wanted. 

Now obviously, these verses have much deeper meaning than for my simple story.  But sometimes we think we “get” the bigger, deeper meaning from a portion of Scripture we have read over and over and over again that we mentally skip over the message altogether.  We become overly familiar with that which is holy—and in doing so, we become blind.
Sometimes we miss the personal message
the intimate connection
God intends Scripture to have 
on our own life story. 

When my desire was not met, I responded selfishly. 
I did not ask God to help me let go. 
I never asked Him to heal the wound.
I sought what I thought would please me 
instead of seeking forgiveness.

I failed to recognize the gift God and Grandma HAD given me. 

In my Grandmother's final moments, I sat next to the bed stroking her hand.  Just before she breathed her last, tears fell from her eyes.  She had not been given fluid for days.  There was no moisture in her body to release.  I believed then, as I do now—with all my heart—that she saw the Lord.  I believe what I witnessed was her witnessing Glory.  She gave me a glimpse of the Glory that will be mine some day. 

The spiritual heritage she passed down is priceless.  
Her faithfulness now reflected in the eyes of her grandchildren 
and great grandchildren who walk with Jesus.

What I asked for I did not receive.  In God’s opinion, the recognition and approval I sought was not necessary.  Instead He gave me what I did not even know to ask for. 

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