I tend to fully enjoy gifts that come from the Father; which is good. But I find myself elevating His gifts over Him; seeking His hand rather than His face. His gifts are good, really good. His creation is vast and unlimited. I occasionally get lost in thought and awe, just so we are clear on what I am expressing: this happens when I look on our little kitten and see his perfect whiskers and coloring; when I sit morning after morning eating a blueberry bagel and drinking a cup of coffee, and it is the start to a brand new day and I thoroughly enjoy it; each time sitting down eating a meal and realizing that God’s creative mind created the materials for that meal; when I see a orchestra or a band and see the complexity yet organization and skill of the work and the people making beautiful music via instrument; when I am in the car and having a BLAST singing along to Luke Bryan and asking passionately in unison with him: “is someone else calling you baby?” (i am ridiculous); when I see someone use talents remarkably well, i.e. figure skating, ballroom dancing; when I spend time with my California/Mexico family; when summer nights are too good; when I hear the Righteous Brothers sing “Unchained Melody” and I want to swoon; when you laugh so hard about something that you can’t breath; when I have an idea and can actually make it come to life; when I haven’t seen Brooks in a month(s) and distance is finally no more, temporarily, and I can be hugged by him or sit real close with my head resting on his chest and hear his heartbeat; when I can craft an essay to say exactly what I mean and feel about a piece of literature. All great gifts; and I am thankful that in the past year God has been reshaping my lenses and making me aware of how incomparable His gift of life and how widespread His gifts are. It has redefined and brought a depth to my awareness of who God is. But even those gifts don’t fully satisfy. I can recognize this because I get overwhelmed and distracted amidst the gifts and then I finally look up and realize that these gifts are only supplemental and an addition to God. They can’t fill His shoes, and they weren’t intended to.
So that brought me to a 2016 and life-goal:
to see the Gift-giver as better than the gifts
It always makes me excited when God brings these small but powerful statements to the forefront of my mind, because I know that they have a purpose. A purpose that will end in me knowing God more than I did before.
So it began.
Scripture paints this picture. Because the goal of everything is that we would be restored back to a whole, perfect relationship with God.
In fact, comparing God to His gifts is foolish really and not logically consistent. It makes sense that I tend to get occupied and focused on God’s gifts because they are on such a supremely large scale, truly, I mean life is a gift- try to wrap your mind around that one. But fundamentally it would be like comparing your mother to the gifts she gives you on your birthday. My point is that would be absurd because no amount of gifts could compare to a loving relationship. Right? But as humans we are so naturally inclined to depravity so that is not surprising.
Amidst the song “Simple Pursuit” being sung at Passion this year these lyrics struck my heart:
God take us back, the place we began
The simple pursuit of nothing but you//
Nothing and no one comes close to You
Nothing could ever come close
In that moment I was reminded and aware of where I began this journey with Jesus’s love and relationship. Things in my heart and mind were more simple (because I didn’t know as much). But yet it was truly a pursuit of Him. When I realize that this all started because of someone, Jesus-Son of God, and a relationship; not necessarily knowledge or maturity or eloquence of language, etc; I go back to the vision of a simple pursuit.
And that simple pursuit is seeing God, Jesus, and the Spirit of God as better than life itself.
This may seem disorganized and not very fluid but by these pieces of scripture, written years and years apart by different people, and for different purposes (yet one fundamental goal of revelation: Jesus), it displays a beautiful variety of who God is.
” The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground seven times.” Psalm 12:6
“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love” Genesis 39:21
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful as your Father is merciful” Luke 6:35-36
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Warning: this is getting ready to take a different direction while still focusing on the Gift-giver being the ultimate purpose of life.
Recently a close friend asked me: when did your quiet times, with Jesus, become so sweet?
So I thought for a moment…
And was able to pinpoint the pivotal point in which quiet times significantly changed. (Let me say, sometimes my quiet times are in pursuit of the knowledge and academic facet of scripture, and that has allowed me to mature and grow in the truth of God. But that is not when they are sweetest, but that is supplemental to the relationship.)
During my freshman year of high school I attended a Grace Emmaus Chrysalis experience, and that is when it pivotally changed. Why? For the first time I grasped, dwelt, delighted in the intense realness of Jesus, Son of God. Truly realizing that He is as real of a being as my closest friend or family member. That changed time with God forever. Knowing that every gift I have experienced, every embrace of love when I needed it most, all scripture I knew about the person of Jesus– I could know personally that same person. He knows me through and through and enjoys conversation with me. It is a lot to process. Sometimes
the person/being of Jesus becomes distant and far off due to the fact that in this life we can see the work of His hands but not
his hands physically. But once I scratched the surface of the
reality and realness of Jesus, I began picturing Him when we
spoke. My discernment was clear and I could feel Jesus so near. I can go back in time, specifically to where I locationally was
during these conversations. And it felt as real as a conversation with my sister.
That changes everything. Scripture becomes more dear and real and utterly incredible. The words to “O The Blood” absolutely affected me to the core.
“O the blood, Crimson love, Price of life’s demand, Shameful sin, Placed on Him, The hope of every man//
What a sacrifice that saved my life//
Savior Son, Holy One, Slain so I can live, See The Lamb, The Great I AM, Who takes away my sin”
I know the One the lyrics are written about, He knows me, He speaks with me. How can that be?
I get to this point and it leads into more…
“Better is one day in Your courts, better is one day in Your house, better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere”
My goodness, that is why He is better than His gifts. That is why only He satisfies because once you enter into a glimpse of His presence and goodness all holes, depravities, and aches in the human heart are filled. Made new. Pure.
Gifts alone circumstantionally can change our lives. When Brooks, a gift, entered my life, my life did change and has not been the same since. But even the best of gifts do not possess the ability to make me new and give me eternal purpose, security, and love– and certainly cannot make me a new creation. That is the reason God is better than His gifts and provisions. He will never change, His love will remain.
O thank you Father God that You allow us and made a way for us to know You.