Grace’s Gift

DSCN0243I hated my old picnic basket, the one I received as a wedding gift nearly thirty years ago. It was a weird shape, and the handles were flimsy so it had to be carried like a wicker bundle. Needless to say, I often chose to use shopping bags to carry my table service and other food items to our annual family reunion, held on the same day at the same place for over ninety years. One of my cousins noticed my array of shopping bags, and I told her how much I hated my old picnic basket with its crazy shape and impractical handles. Almost a year later, I received a message on Facebook from this cousin, saying that she had found a picnic basket at a yard sale for a $1 and she asked me if I wanted it, attaching a picture for my review. It was perfect! Nice oblong shape, sturdy handles – I was in love! I asked her if I could pay her for it, and she declined, saying it was a gift.

My next thought was that I should buy something for her, to pay her back for her thoughtfulness. As I thought about this knee-jerk reaction to a gift, I realized that this is often how we behave when we receive something wonderful. We try to take the grace of the gift and turn it into a transaction.

How many times have we tried to do this with God’s blessings? We attempt feebly to “earn” the gifts through our offerings, our church attendance, or our church service. While it is right and good to gratefully acknowledge the gifts and blessings showered on us, we can diminish the joy of the giver when we attempt to change the grace into a transaction. When I immediately wanted to pay my dear cousin back, I was taking away some of her joy in giving me something I really wanted (and kind of needed). When we try to pay God back through obedience or service, we take away some of the Divine joy that was part of the grace given. While obedience and service are ways that we can show our love to the Father, Son, and Spirit, they are more meaningful when they spring from a heart filled with joy and devotion.

I love my new picnic basket, and I took it this year to our annual family reunion. My cousin was there, and I think she knows the joy of making me feel special and blessed by her thoughtfulness. Grace’s gift requires no repayment, just a willingness to allow someone else to give to you and experience the joy of grace.

~by Nan Kuhlman

2 comments so far

  1. Jerome Ellard on

    Good reminder! Thanks for the gift of this post.

  2. billwinn on

    Right on Tim… gifts do not come with strings attached nor do they come with expectations.

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