I was invited to a thanksgiving dinner where we were encouraged to come ready and prepared with thanksgiving items from the last year to share as we celebrate God’s goodness. I wondered what I would share that God has done for me during the year and was dismayed that I could not think of any ‘substantial’ miracles, ‘jaw-dropping testimonies’, novel experiences, impressive enough to stop the show and somehow convince my brethren that I indeed, I am a woman of faith! That I walk with God and I manage to get him to do mighty things for me.
As I thought of my blessings;
I thought about my health and that of my family. Would it not sound impressive if we had been sick and had experienced a miraculous healing? Poor us, instead God had chosen to give us perfect health and wholeness all year long.
I reflected that while financially, we had not received any external injections of cash flow, no pay rises but we had met our obligations, sometimes by spreading the payments over some months, but everything was paid for and we had been able to share with others around us.
My mind went to our local church where we had found a home and a family. We had opportunities to be of service and had made friends. While in our community of faith that we affectionately call the tribe, we had despite all odds; busy work and travel schedules, wide spectrum/shades of faith met every two weeks over the year. We had eaten together, read together, prayed together, talked tons and celebrated each other under the guise of birthday parties, baby and even bridal showers.
I finally rested on the very beautiful spot in Gods world that I live in, where I mark the seasons by the changing colour of the flowers on the trees, abundant purple jacaranda’s, giving way to the flamboyant red and orange flowers, serenaded on every side by bougainvillea of all colours and the majestic views of Mount Meru.
However, I found that I wanted bigger and better. In wanting ‘big answers’ to prayers said by the mighty woman of God, yours truly, I forgot that gifts are gifts to the “givee” not the vessel that God uses. And that God answering any prayers in a dramatic manner does not in any way elevate me as a better follower of Jesus.
I found myself asking, how come I do not have “spectacular’ miraculous stories to report? To prove my faith? Or maybe the question better asked is why do I take the ordinary not to be miraculous at all?
I despise the gifts and the generosity of God that I have already received in pursuit of those supposedly more spectacular and dramatic gifts.
Like the older son asks when he finds the party to welcome his brother home in full swing in the story of the prodigal son, I ask, “I have slaved for you and you have not even given me a young goat to share with my friends”. And the father wonders at him me, “you are with me always, all I have is yours”.
The drama of the prodigal son that has lessons on so many levels; God our father who throws a good party and the obvious prodigal and the other who stays at home but whose heart has wandered away replays in my mind and I am stuck by the temerity of the obvious prodigal, the younger son as he requests, “I want my share of your estate now before you die”. The father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons and the questions beg, is the father’s wealth something we can demand? It’s His to give, His to gift and not ours to demand. Even more pertinent is whether the totality of the father’s wealth is something that one can demand? Whether it is something that can be wrapped up, balanced, packed and given away once and for all? How about His presence, guidance, fellowship, wisdom? How about all those things that call for an ongoing relationship and being in the presence of the father?
Looking at the “at-first-not-so-obvious prodigal”, the second son and now knowing the conclusion of the story, we wonder at how self-righteous and sanctimonious he is in his cry, No! I will not celebrate! How about me? How about me, he asks. I have dotted all my “I’s” and crossed all my “t’s”, what do I have to show for it? Some little drama dad is all I ask.
And then it dawns on me,
That’s where I am Lord! I want to be celebrated! I don’t want to be taken for granted! For you see Lord, in my book you earn your share of the inheritance by being nice, doing all that is asked of me, generally slaving away. You dot all your “i’s” and you receive a calf to celebrate with your friends. I have slaved for you all these years! Never refused a single thing you asked me to do! (Obviously mine is a selective memory.) In all this time you never gave me even a single young goat to celebrate with my friends…further proof on just how selective the aforementioned memory is. Lord acknowledge! I demand. And let others acknowledge too, the good I have done. Celebrate me! Give me pomp, give me drama, a show stopper, proof that I am your hardworking son!
“LOOK DEAR SON, YOU HAVE ALWAYS STAYED WITH ME (we have a relationship, you are in my presence) AND EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS”.
Change your lens…perspectacles! You are not a slave!
And I realize, I am a son in the house not a slave. When there is drama I can celebrate! I hear that voice telling me, everything I have is yours son, away with your petty bookkeeping! Enjoy it!
And I repent. I repent for imagining that my share of the inheritance can be neatly wrapped (preferably in a shiny new car, job promotion complete with title, corner office and other perks) and given to me once and for all. For thinking that signs of God’s goodness and answer to prayer are something I can display as trophies of his approval of me.
And I thank him, that I am a son! I am not slaving, everything he has is mine, daily provision, healing, peace, joy, comfort, forgiveness. Asante baba!
And I am freed to celebrate the boring not so dramatic goodness I have received such as the knowledge that my sins are continuously and unconditionally forgiven, provision for daily needs, protection, wonderful relationships with family and friends, being surrounded by a great community, vital and personal lessons I have learnt over the year at home, with family and in my workplace never mind that some lessons were not easily learnt, mistakes that have been redeemed and the privilege of being a parent.
And so I turn from being scandalized to being deeply grateful in the apparent lack of drama and fun fare in the way God has blessed me.
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