“I meet God in every gift I wrap.” I was buying a bridal shower gift from the bookstore in the office where I work and the Christian sister working there asked me if I wanted it wrapped. I agreed, and as she went about her process with the red heart paper she had selected, she shared some very beautiful thoughts with me:
She told me she takes pleasure in making things beautiful, and certainly feels gratified when she is complimented for a job well done. But even more rewarding for her is the power of the blessing she bestows as she folds lines and tapes patterns. She knows the power of a gift, and even though many would argue that there’s no point in spending so much time wrapping something that’s just going to be torn off in 5 seconds, there’s a chance that the receiver might pause to feel the care of the one giving the gift. If they can experience and see all of that, the work is worth it. My colleague’s voice was filled with emotion as she shared these thoughts with me, and I was struck by the pure joy she has in doing her job.
It reminded me of Jesus’ words; it is more blessed to give than to receive. And this concept is certainly not limited to gifts and material things. This girl was giving her all in her job, a job that others might look down on, and she was blessed. When we do things to bless others, when we work to the best of our ability, even at a task we may find distasteful or repetitive, God is there. It’s a great mystery that we can experience Christ in all of these things, but I am reminded that He is the ultimate example of giving. God gave his son to the people of this world, even though in a few short years, the gift would be ruthlessly spit on, brutally disfigured, and utterly rejected. Knowing this, He still gave. And through Him, all nations were blessed.
When I connect to the reality of God’s generosity, I am able to give too. Giving actually tends to come more naturally to me than receiving. I hate owing others money, try to avoid asking for help as much as possible, and would mostly prefer any charitable donations I make to remain unseen.
In a conversation about yoga and spirituality with a friend of another faith, we ended up talking about giving. She was telling me about breathing practices. I told her that I am able to exhale for much longer than I can inhale. She said there’s a teaching that says those for whom that is true tend to be givers rather than takers. It may sound a bit superstitious to you, but it resonated with me.
When I do yoga or breathing practices, I like to meditate on a bible verse or some words about God rather than just trying to go blank. After these two conversations, I was trying this to start my morning, and the words that came into my mind were “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” I tried saying the words in my head as I breathed, and quickly found it was too long for a single breath, but if I broke it up:
Inhale – Christ in me
Exhale – the hope of glory
I found that the rhythm seemed just right. It also corresponded to my natural breath pattern, of a shorter inhale and longer exhale. So here’s the deep thought surrounding all of this:
Taking in Christ's love always leaves me with more to give.
That’s how I want to live my life. That’s how I want to practice my faith. That’s how I want to relate to others. And somewhere along the way, I hope I can learn to be a receiver too. I want to learn how to accept God’s love not based on my performance, but on my identity as his child. I want to draw others to him not because I’m winsome, but because they can experience the love of God in me. The hope of glory (breathe in), Christ in me (breathe out).
Charlotte is on the Editorial team at boldcupofcoffee.com and currently works with a non-profit organization in Taiwan where she teaches, leads English Bible studies, writes educational materials, trains teachers, poses for pictures, and a bunch of other stuff too. She is originally from Canada, spending significant amounts of time in all three westernmost provinces and the idea of home has become quite fluid. She has learned that life overseas is not as exotic as people may think, but life with God is a daily adventure.
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