daily devotional

How do you receive a gift? What is your response to a wrapped box before you even know what’s inside?

Today is my birthday and I am one proud woman to be 46. I’m determined to absolutely rock this year of life like only someone with ridiculous gratitude can. Because it’s my birthday I’m starting this day here with you sharing my absolute favorite lesson. This is the lesson of the Birthday Girls.

Imagine with me you have come to the birthday party of 3 little girls. It’s gift time at the party and the girls each sit down at a long table with a wrapped box in front of them. This is the gift you brought for each of the girls.

Birthday girl #1 unwraps the gift, finds the baby doll you bought in the purple dress, gives a slight smile and obligatory ‘thank you’, then quickly focuses on the next presents.

Birthday girl #2 rips into her gift, sees that she too received a baby doll from you, but she’s upset it’s pink and not purple like birthday girl #1. She doesn’t like pink. She pouts in jealousy with her folded arms and angry eyebrows.

Maybe you’ve been to a birthday party that went down about like this. You regret even buying a gift because there was no real gratitude shown. Just a continual desire for something more or something different.

So, birthday girl … which one are you?

I know it may not be your birthday today, but girl don’t you realize the gift you have received? The ultimate gift has been set before you, wrapped in the rising sun. Here it is, the gift of a brand new day of life. How did you receive it?

Some of us were birthday girl #2, royally disappointed that today isn’t what we wanted. UNGRATEFUL. We woke up to Thursday and we would much rather it be Friday. It’s too early and we wanted more sleep. It’s too hot or it’s too cold and we’re like freaking Goldilocks, never happy with anything. Gosh, aren’t we guilty of always wanting what we don’t have? When it’s Summer we want Fall, then when it turns to Fall we want Summer back. We dreamed of that man to spend the rest of our lives with, now the very sound of him breathing is annoying. We prayed for these babies, now we are nothing but frustrated and overwhelmed. We hoped for that job, now we dread showing up for work. All these gifts and we’re not happy with any of them.

Oh, birthday girl #2, disappointed with what you have been given, maybe you need a good ol’ fashion spanking. I think our whole country could use a spanking right now.

But my guess is, most of us are more like birthday girl #1. We’re just UNIMPRESSED by the gift. Today is okay, but it’s nothing to get all rip roaring excited over. We’ve kinda gotten gifts like this one before. I’ve had a Thursday like this one many times. It’s nothing new, nothing impressive, just ordinary. So, we too respond to the gift with a slight smile and obligatory, ‘thank you God for today’, but truthfully, we’re more focused on the days that have already passed or the ones to come. Not this gift, the next gift. The bigger one and better one maybe to come. And so we live this day missing all the beauty it holds because we’re here, but not really here.

Unimpressed or ungrateful. Could this be us? The girls who have received the gift of a new day of life wrapped in the rising sun? No, it can’t be!!!!!

Lamentations 3: 22&23 MSG “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!”

What is your response to this loyal love God has for you, created new here this morning? Are you unimpressed because you’ve woken up every single day of your life to his mercy and grace? Has it just grown old to you? Are you ungrateful because everything isn’t as you hoped it would be by now?

Let me introduce you to the third birthday girl. You’ve met her sisters, Miss Unimpressed and Miss Ungrateful.

Birthday girl #3 sits and anxiously awaits the unwrapping of her gift. Now it’s her turn as the other 2 have gone before her. She wiggles and squirms in her chair, anticipating the greatness of what she has received. She holds the box and says, “thank you, thank you, thank you, I love it!” She hasn’t unwrapped the gift yet, she doesn’t know what’s inside, but she’s so grateful to have received the gift. She has decided to love it no matter what. Birthday girl #3 has PREDETERMINED HAPPINESS. She’s decided in advance she will love what she has received.

This can be us. We can wake up today, not knowing what the day holds, with predetermined happiness. Uncircumstancial joy. Thank you God, I love it. I love this day you have given me. I don’t have to know the details of this day before deciding right now I’m ridiculously grateful for it.

Will you be birthday girl #3? Thank you God, I love it.

I taught this lesson exactly 6 years ago on a devotional. I remember it well because it was the morning of my 40th birthday. It was easy to declare I was going to love the day before knowing what was to come because honestly birthdays are typically pretty awesome. What I didn’t know is moments after leading that devotional where I declared, “thank you God, I love it!”, I discovered my 13 year old little girl had tried to cut both her wrists while I was sleeping.

It was the hardest day of my life.

How could I love this? How could I be grateful for this?

This is where I began to understand a deeper faith. A faith that says this isn’t good right now, but one day it will be. A faith that clings to Genesis 50:20 for my daughter’s life “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Faith to understand if it’s not good yet, then God’s not done yet.

God is still in the process of using that day 6 years ago for good and I still haven’t seen the final product. But every single day since then I’ve been invited to live life knowing he’s still working. And that invitation comes with the ability to LOVE today in the middle of the mess and trust God knows exactly what he is doing.

Some days are easy to love. Some days aren’t. He is Lord over both.

Life threatens to dull the excitement of each new day with it’s monotonous routines and daily grind. Don’t allow yourself to become unimpressed by the gift.

Life also threatens to make us jealous and cynical when things go wrong for us and right for others. Don’t allow yourself to become ungrateful for the gift.

You don’t know what today holds, and you don’t have to in order to be ridiculously grateful for it. Take a look at the gift wrapping on this gift, the rising sun. Look at the care and attention to detail your creator put into the wrapping alone. Gosh, it’s a magnificent gift. Give yourself permission to be overjoyed by the gift of today.

This is uncircumstancial happiness. This is deep faith in knowing God will work all things together for good. This is partnering in the process instead of standing in the way with our reluctance or critical eye.

Thank you God, I love it. I don’t have to know all this day holds to know it’s a gift from you and whatever comes my way, you’re going to make it work for good.