Loving the Gift More than the Giver

One of the rich blessings of being a grandparent over the past two years has been the excitement Rilyn displays when we come to visit with her. Upon arrival she opens the door and excitedly welcomes us in; repeatedly announcing “gwampa and gwamma are here!” Once we’re inside their home Rilyn begins to run and jump around with excitement and then finally she’ll run back towards me to give her a hug. When we’re finished hugging she will quickly begin telling me something new she’s been doing or she’ll invite me to begin playing with her. It’s so fun to experience her energy and love.

A few weeks ago, Vicki and I went to Mitchell and Traci to celebrate Traci’s birthday. Again, I was also excited to see Rilyn, only this time it was different. We knocked on the door and this time Mitchell invited us in. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Rilyn sitting by her little table watching the movie, Frozen, on her iPad. Her eyes and attention were deeply fixed on the movie. I took my coat off and walked over to her. I knelt down beside her to watch with her, she quickly glanced at me and then right back to the screen. I put my arm on her shoulder as my way of announcing “gwampa is here to see you,” but she kind of squirmed away as if to say, “don’t bother me, can’t you see I am busy”.

It felt strange. See in order to bless her, when the movie Frozen was released in November, Vicki and I took her to the theater to see it. She loved the movie. Many of her Christmas presents had to do with the characters in the movie. A few weeks later she had a birthday party and the theme was Frozen. And on that night a few weeks ago, it felt like she loved Frozen more than me. Anna and Elsa had stolen her heart from me.

As I reflected on my experience that night, I came under deep conviction realizing I often do the same thing with God. See, he also loves to visit with me and so he often stops by. And rather than welcoming him with great excitement, like Rilyn I’m often distracted by other things that seem more amusing and entertaining. Like Rilyn, I often take those experiences or things that God blesses me with and they end up becoming obstacles to my relationship with him.

I thank God for how he spoke to me through my experience with Rilyn. Shortly after, while enjoying my time with God, he reminded of these simple truths from Psalm 16, “I said to the Lord, You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing…. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be moved…. You have made known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

May you and I never forget that nothing will have the capacity to bring us joy like being attentive in the presence of God and that we may never love the gift more than the Giver.

As for Rilyn, like God, I will love her no matter how she responds to me.

Grace to you and peace,  Mike


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