Monday, July 1, 2013
WHEN THE GIFT BREAKS
Suppose a beautiful very expensive vase is delivered to my door.
It is a gift. No strings attached.
The value of the vase is beyond my imagination.
The card delivered with the vase says that it is mine to love and cherish and enjoy.
The card also says that in the future, at an unknown time, I will be able to redeem the vase for its full monetary value.
I put the vase in a safe place.
I fill it with flowers.
It is most beautiful when it is being used as that for which it was created.
It is a constant reminder of the generosity and grace of The Giver.
I want everyone to know Him.
My heart is filled with gratitude.
I want to share what I have with others, in response to what I've been given.
When I see the vase, I don't just see it's beauty. I see the promise of financial security for our family and all of our material needs.
I see answered prayers.
I see rest.
I pray, that when the day comes for us to redeem the vase, that we will use the money wisely. That we will be generous with others. That we will always remember to give thanks to The Giver.
The gift of the vase has changed my life. I will never be the same.
I'm overwhelmed by this unearned gift.
The vase is truly a gift of grace.
I hear news that others have also received vases. With the same note about no strings attached, and with the same promise of future redemption.
I'm happy for them and am once again stirred with gratitude for the generosity and grace of The Giver.
When we see each other we stop and share words of encouragement to each other.
We are all amazed at what we have been given.
We are bound together and to The Giver through the gift and the promise.
But then I begin to hear stories.
Stories about vases being dropped, and vases being stolen.
I hear stories about the carelessness of others and freak accidents.
I hear about chips on the rims and scratches and water stains.
I hear the cries of those whose gifts are now broken beyond repair.
I see disappointment and heartache on faces.
And I also see fear.
Fear on the faces of those of us whose vases are safe and whole.
The fear changes everything.
Is there anything that is more contagious than fear?
I am afraid to put flowers in it.
I can't leave it in a place to enjoy its beauty, and to be reminded of the promise that came with it.
I am constantly giving orders to those who are around it.
I try to lock it away but am worried that wherever I put it, it will be found. And stolen.
I can't sleep. The safety of the vase is all I think about.
My mind is constantly devising new ways to keep the vase safe.
I close my eyes and I see the vase broken. In a million pieces, with the promise of redemption gone.
I talk about my fears. I ask others how they keep their vases safe.
They have no answers.
They are also desperately afraid.
I decide I must keep the vase with me at all times.
I carry it around wherever I go.
It becomes heavier and heavier.
With my arms tightly wrapped around the vase, I can no longer reach out to other people and offer them help.
They are on their own.
Fear has consumed my compassion.
Carrying the vase with me wherever I go becomes too cumbersome. Leaving the house with it also poses new risks and dangers.
So I stay home with it.
I can't leave it.
I can't take my eyes off of it.
The gift has become my responsibility.
Its safety, its remaining unbroken, is all up to me.
The vase, and its promise, have now become a burden.
A heavy heavy burden that I must now bear.
I am no longer grateful for the gift.
Who gives thanks for a burden too heavy to carry?
All I am is tired and weary and overwhelmed.
I wait for the day when the vase can be redeemed, but it feels like that day is never coming.
I begin to wonder if I misunderstood the words on the card, or maybe that they were never true.
Resentment has replaced gratitude in my heart.
I don't know why this scene has been playing in my mind over the last few weeks.
But I do know that lives, hearts, relationships and dreams are as fragile as any expensive vase.
There are thieves, accidents and carelessness all around us.
Lives, hearts, relationships and dreams become chipped and broken.
I've lost sleep, devised plans, talked others to death, and isolated myself in the process of trying to protect my gifts.
I've learned one thing about resentment: it comes when we try to do our very best and our very best isn't good enough.
I don't know why, after receiving a gift far more wonderful and extravagant than I could ever have imagined, a gift that I could never have created for myself, I think I have the ability to protect it and keep it safe.
Maybe it's just pride. You know, that relentless lie of self-sufficiency.
Maybe it's the fear that plagues us since that fateful day in the Garden.
Maybe it's because my eyes became fixed upon the gift and the promise, not on The Giver and The Promise Maker.
Day after day, I continue to sit and watch my vase.
I hear that others are doing the same.
The people who once joined together in praise of The Giver are now strangers to each other. Each carrying their own burdens. Burdens which were never meant to be carried.
And in our carrying, we have become unattached and uncaring.
And it all started with a gift.
How sad it is that not one of us, not even one, takes the time to talk to The Giver about our confusion and our fears.
If we had taken the time, and humbled ourselves before Him, we might would have heard him say, "Turn the card over and read the back."
I know you love this gift and that you are grateful for it. I know you will do your best to protect it and keep it safe. But I also know you can't. I know there will be times when you will be forgetful or distracted. You also will not be able to control the actions of others when they are around your vase, although I know trying to control others is one of your strongest habits. Life is hard. Things will happen. Your vase will become chipped, stained and more than likely, terribly broken. You will feel guilty, and feel like you have failed the vase, and most of all, like you have failed Me. Don't go there. You see, I have a plan for when gifts become broken. I've had it all along. I will bind up the broken. I hold all the pieces in my hands. No one can snatch them away from me. I alone have the power to heal and restore. I have the love to do and to give more than you could ever ask or imagine. I make all things new. Now go . . . and enjoy what I have given to you. I've got it.