“What’s your favorite word, Mommy?”
My five-year old loves to make cards for me. They always say the same thing and I can expect at least one every day. Somewhere, nestled between makeshift daisies (my favorite flowers), and five stick figures (my favorite family), are the words, “I love Mommy” and, of course, her name, “Maylee.”
Now, over the past couple weeks since she asked my favorite word, she always adds “Jesus” to her homemade crayon masterpieces. Needless to say, she did not disappoint on my birthday. Left on the counter for me was my daily dose of my daughter’s doodle drawings.
Favorite flowers. Favorite people. Favorite words. What more could a mommy want? My littlest girl is a giver.
My oldest was also true to form this year. Three days before I dialed in new digits she was trying to offer the gift she’d gotten several weeks earlier. Let’s just say she’s not a secret keeper. I’m amazed she held out that long! I finally agreed to accept the day before my birthday. It was an angel set in my birthstone. Ere goes good giver #2.
It was, however, my middle daughter who made me smile most on my birthday this year.
“I want to buy you a present” Addie said. “Can you give me some money?” she asked. “Can you take me to the store?” she begged. “I want to surprise you.”
These short statements were worth more than any material item. Willingness and desire to give reveal the true heart. When it comes to blessing another, it really is the thought that counts most.
Still, I acquiesced. I handed her $3 and sent her away with her grandma. Several moments later she returned with a pair of earrings clutched tightly in her tiny hands making sure to hide her treasure from me as best she could. When we got home she wrapped them up and put them in a small bag that read, “Happy Birthday.” A few hours later I opened up a perfect pair of silver cross earrings.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. ~2 Corinthians 8:12
There is something supernaturally sweet about having an honest willingness to give coupled with an honest recognition of one’s own inability to do so unassisted. Likewise, there is something strangely similar between the relationship of Addie’s wants and needs in regards to giving and ours in regards to giving to God. She delicately demonstrated how our desires to please God relate to how desperately we need him to help us do so. Our desires to please God are always directly related to how desperately we need him to help us do so. The moment we lose touch of that reality, our gifts become utterly unacceptable regardless of personal cost. God despises the sham of the so-called self-sufficient.
Addie’s requests reminded me of my Father – the greatest giver. They made me think of how we cannot surprise a God who gives with what he has first given to us – doubtless with that very purpose in mind. We cannot surprise the Giver, but we can make him smile upon our willingness. We can bless him tremendously when we use what he has given to please and love him the way he has done for us. We can show him our heart if we stop pretending we are able to do so apart from his help.
My husband took the girls and I to the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA yesterday. (He’s a great giver, too.) We saw “Moses.” At the end of the show, a shadowy shepherd took center stage. Wide-eyed Maylee looked at me excitedly and said, “Mommy! It’s your favorite word!” Equally excited I replied, “It’s Jesus!”
As I recollected the two-hour overview of Moses’ life, I realized how human Moses really was. For a guy who ranks right up there with Elijah and John the Baptist, Moses had quite an anger issue. He had lots of reasons to be angry, too – right reasons. The things that set him off were seriously unjust. It was his reaction to that anger and retaliation against trusting the Lord with the injustice that led him to murder, repeated frustration, and blessing-stripping disobedience. This was Moses. Could he really have failed that bad? He could, and he did. God still used him. Why?
Jesus is why. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. What Moses did not have was perfection. All humans lack perfection. We are utterly unacceptable, but, our willingness to give with his resources qualifies us for one reason and one reason only – He is acceptable; He is perfect.
You can’t surprise the giver but you can make him smile despite your lack and imperfection. So what’s your favorite word?