It’s September. The local newspaper was recently encouraging people to book restaurant space now…for Christmas parties! I thought the season always started a bit early in the US, now that it appears right on the heels of Halloween…but apparently, here in the UK, we are well ahead of America in terms of holiday spirit.
The notion of Christmas parties got me thinking about gifts.
There are all kinds of gifts. There are generous gifts. There are polite gifts. There are thoughtful gifts. There are extravagant gifts. There are surprise gifts. There are expected gifts. There are wished-for gifts. There are etiquette gifts. There are thank-you gifts. There are thinking-of-you gifts. There are returnable gifts. There are “just because” gifts. There are romantic gifts. There are commemorative gifts. There are collector gifts. There are homemade gifts….
There are also necessary gifts.
Most gifts, in some way, are extra, optional; they can be refused, set aside, or forgotten about without much detriment…except perhaps to your relationship to the giver.
But there are some gifts which are vital, requisite even.
The Bible speaks of sleep as a gift (Ps 127:2).
A quick search on Amazon didn’t reveal sleep as an item on anyone’s wishlist. In fact, it doesn’t even look like you can buy sleep on Amazon…or on eBay…or the Home Shopping Network. Even Costco doesn’t seem to stock any sleep.
I’ve realized that, for all our ability to control our environments and our actions, we actually can’t make ourselves rest. There are times when I find myself in excellent circumstances for resting–no obligations on my time, plenty of physical comfort, little stress…and yet, I still cannot seem to rest.
I’ve come across nights where my body is tired, my mind isn’t racing, and yet still I cannot fall asleep.
For all of my skill at managing life, for all of my learned habits to exert control, sleep and rest are something that we cannot actually manufacture for ourselves. We cannot force them. We cannot create them.
They must be given. As a gift.
And they are necessary.
I’m not sure what the etiquette books say, but I expect that asking for a gift is usually considered a cultural no-no. Such a request would likely come across as rude, greedy, selfish, or as implying that your intended giver wasn’t naturally very generous, or thoughtful, or caring.
But I find myself asking for rest, asking for sleep. Because I need them.
But others are crucial. Like salvation. His Word. The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. And faith.
Will God find me rude, demanding, or infantile if I ask for these things?
If He gives them, will I receive them, hang on to them, enjoy them, cherish them? Or will I set them aside, or even try to return them?
What’s my role in the acquisition of a necessary gift?
And what do I do with it once I get it?
And how do I respond to the One who gave it?