So, dear reader are you wondering who the terribly disobedient child is or who the poorly mannered ungrateful gift receiver is? They are both myself.
It is easy for me to see some obvious gifts, blessings, I have told God, "Golly, that's nice but no thanks" on. Distant refusals, while I still suffer the consequences, are less painful now for of course I no longer live there. Some others sting much deeper, for they are not distant but in the now of things and I have refused these gifts after I assumed I learned to trust and accept.
The first very noticeable refusal of His gifts for me was children. I was well into my marriage and the mother of four girls before I finally recognized how hideously I had been refusing to take a blessing from God in the form of children I thought I didn't want. My first refusals were rationalized because the gift would ruin my life and show me to be the sinner I am. My second and last refusals because it was "best" for the children I had, our financial position or because I was tired.
Unfortunately when I finally realized what I had been saying all those years to God, who only had good things to offer me, it was to late to open my arms and my heart to all that he had for me. My selfishness is truly irreversible, the individual moments of selfishness: abortion, and "family planning" and then my final stance of selfishness, permanent sterilization, are mine to hold forever.
Am I forgiven? No doubt remains in my mind anymore at the level of my forgiveness in the hands of my Father. I am free from the spiritual bondage of those sins but the consequences in this life remain and the missed blessing is only to be mourned, but never marveled at. Those gifts are ones I can no longer call Him up and say, "golly, I sure am ready for them now."
Fortunately, my second very recognizable refusal is far more redeemable. Marriage and what a blessing, daily, moment by moment, that it is, was very overlooked by me for a very long time. Even when I was enjoying the fruits of a "good" marriage, I still managed to refuse the entire gift. I refused to take the gift and its blessing to the depths of my heart, to cherish every nuance, to breath in deep the earthly embodiment of His unfailing love.
For a long time I refused to see how much God worked through my marriage to grow me, to bring me closer to holy. I refused to "use" the gift how it was meant to be used and instead insisted on using it as I wanted to. I finally came to see, accept and apply, "use" the gift the way it was meant to be seen, instead of something that just made me more socially acceptable and kept me from being lonely when I didn't want to be lonely.
So you would think that I would be done being abusive to the gift Giver and to the gifts He gives from the lessons of those two gift refusals let alone the countless other little daily things. I am after all of somewhat average intelligence. At least on the up going sweep of the bell shaped curve.
But no, I still am a gift receiving dork, and not just a dork like someone who just doesn't know how to hold their knife or which fork is the salad fork. It is not just about knowing spiritual "social graces", it is about not trusting to be led by God on how to use and care for the gift.
So not unlike the person at the get together who first refused to take home the gift on the grounds that they had so many gifts that they just were unsure that they could handle any more gifts, is my ridiculousness in telling God that I did not want to have a spiritual gift He had for me because I was not sure I was ready to deal with it. I was not sure I knew enough about it.
I did not for a minute remember, or I chose to not remember that it was coming from God himself. Did I really think that He forgot that I might not be good at something that might be connected to that gift? Did I really think that He forgot that people might not be willing to accept things from me, because they knew me before I received the gift? Did I really think that He just didn't realize that giving me the gift would be a waste of the gift?
Yep. I really must have been thinking those things because of the way I have acted. I have acted as if I knew better than God what I was. I have acted as if my inadequacies are greater than God. I have squirmed and wormed and wiggled, not looking to God for my strength, just whining and whimpering.
Oh my, how humble. No. not really. Not humble at all and when it is written out it is seen for what it is, gross arrogance. Because when put in the context that I wrote about in my first post on this (Some Things on My Mind) it is easy to see. You all, my dear readers, saw it for what it was, gross, stinky, horrifying arrogance that did not deserve another gift, ever. And even though some tried to put it in good light (but realized that there really was no good light), when it is revealed that it is God who gives the gift, all excuses and face-saving fade away. God would have known that I was a vegan and not in need of a canned ham. It is then that there is no longer any doubt, I am revealed to be what I am, as Dr. John so eloquently, succinctly put it, "nasty."
How horrifyingly arrogant for me to think I know better than God when or how much or what type of gift I should receive. How gross and nasty my heart, that I would refuse to take from God what he generously holds out to me. What an idiot I am to not hear "lean not on your own understanding" and instead stare at those words and be ignorant of them.
Cut from the same cloth but sewn slightly different is the disobedient child that I am, Freddy the Free Loader. Wanting to be a part of the group but only willing to do the things I see fit, thing I want to do, that I think I can handle , that I think I will do well at, that I can't fail at, that won't interrupt my sweet life, that I think others really deserve. Eh? We were travelling along so well until that last one. What the heck? I'm disobedient, reluctant to do what God calls me to do, because I think people don't deserve the whatever it is God asks me to do?
Wow, how much more arrogant does this get? Well at this juncture I could console myself and see that I am in pretty good company with the likes of Jonah. Oh, I can easily disguise that refuse, garbage, and wrapped it up in more palatable excuse of: "people aren't going to like me, people aren't going to want to hear this, people are going to hurt me because of this. Oh, so then what a surprise then to get the reaction Jonah got instead of St. Stephen! Now I'll just go up and sit under my stupid fig tree and whine about not being not-liked or not being not-appreciated.
Ultimately, ultimately, no matter what I say I believe or have learned or live by, ultimately my disobedience, my delayed obedience, my out right refusal, my continually bargaining for a "better" job, tells a story of mistrust. A mistrust that is profoundly undeserved. Not only because no matter what I know, I know that God is God and what stinking more can a human say, there is nothing He can not do, nothing. But secondly, personally known like no intellectualizing can permit, in my very own puny life I have nothing but riches to claim at His hand on my behalf. The only crap in my life is strictly conjured up by myself. He brings me nothing but good all the days of my life.
So dear reader, please hear my confession. That I am an unlearned, unrepentant foolish gift abuser and disobedient freeloader. I am sorry that I am such an arrogant snob, especially if my confessing is hurtful to you. I wish it were not so. I wish I was the nice loving person I would like to be.
Oh, oh how I desire to leap to my defense! To justify myself, declare to you all the valid, culturally acceptable, reasons I am so gross but alas then I know I would never heal, for I am not my own justifier, I can only trust my Lord as my justifier, at the begining, forever and for always. Without confession, without dragging my all into the light I cannot heal. In secret I would only fester and infect. Eventually the poison would spread to the very walls of my dwelling not unlike staph in old hospitals rendering them no longer a place to rest and heal but places that sicken.