Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Giver of Good Gifts

I've learned a lot these last several years. I think, though, that I have learned even more from the last few months ... My biggest takeaway lesson from this latest round of opportunities for growth?

God doesn't often give perfect gifts.

Perfect gifts are kind of like a falling star, something one dreams of, something that strikes one deep within the soul, and something one hopes to see again. One could kill an entire lifetime chasing falling stars. Perhaps we needed daylight to keep us from wasting life away living in the rarities. That being said, I believe that there is a reason that perfect gifts are so rare.

I'm not saying Heavenly Father can't give us perfect gifts. In the life, atonement, death, and resurrection of His son, we see that He is perfectly capable of giving perfection. But, He loves us too much to give us only gifts that are complete upon receipt. He commands us to walk toward perfection, but He allows us to be handicapped in myriad ways in the midst of that walk. He knows that if He wants us to grow to be like Him, then we need -- not a perfect gift -- but a good gift.

In Matthew, it says:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (St. Matthew 7:11, Holy Bible, KJV)
I believe that God gives us good gifts. He often gives us amazing gifts. But, those same gifts almost invariably come with flaws and imperfections. Flaws and imperfections that are tailored specifically to our needs and weaknesses ...

In my experience, it seems that the most incredible of God's gifts usually come with at least one imperfection that is meant to sit on our last nerve or our greatest fear and bounce. That flaw will twist and pull and tug our own weaknesses with all the will of a toddler throwing a fit in the grocery store. Its purpose is about the same. No, that flaw and that toddler aren't both trying to get a treat (okay, your toddler is almost definitely aiming for a treat, but ... ) Their real goal is to distract us, to drag our focus from the true purpose at hand, and to cause us to turn our back on what we are in that place to do.

I believe that God gives us good gifts with flaws and imperfections to see if we will accept those gifts with an eternal perspective. I believe that He gives us these gifts to see if we will see His goodness in their beauty, to see if we can sort out the fluff -- you know, the things that only matter in this life -- from the things that will follow us through eternity. I believe that He offers us gifts with elements that -- when dusted off and polished over and over through the refining moments of life -- will grow to shine more brightly in the eternities than the perfect elements of the original gift do now. 

I believe that such gifts are given to test our worthiness. Will we have the humility to see them for what they are and where they come from? Will we be meek enough to thank God for both the goodness of the gifts and the flaws that are woven through them? I believe God gives good and imperfect gifts because He expects us to learn to see the flaws for the beauty that is in a picture we didn't imagine, the art in a gift painted by the Master Creator from His perspective.

I believe that such gifts are given to stretch us, to teach us to love and learn in a way that would otherwise be beyond our current capacity. I believe that such gifts are given to teach us to emulate the Savior and His love more deeply. Such gifts, when cherished and accepted for the divine bestowal that they are, will move our love from the conditional to the unconditional.

I believe that imperfect but deeply good gifts are given to see if we will allow God to bless us to His fullest desires. Will we take what is given and use it for His good and ours? I believe that when we accept these gifts, when we learn to love and employ them to their deepest potential, we open doors for God to bless us more fully than we ever thought possible. But, I also believe that those further blessings often come in the form of more flawed presents.

I know God loves us. I know that His imperfect gifts are often those with the greatest potential to bless and even change our lives. I know that He allows flaws to come with His presents in order to draw us nearer to Him. I know that He wants to bless us. However, He is the perfect parent, and He knows that challenges and learning experiences are needed to help us become all that He has created us to be. And, that perfect parenting colors His blessings to us ... 

God gives good gifts, but ...

He gave one completely perfect gift. He sent His son to redeem us from sin, to heal our hurts, and to make it possible for us to live and live with them again.

I know God lives. I'm thankful for the perfect gift of the Savior. I'm thankful too for all the good gifts that He so often gives me.