Tuesday, October 23, 2012

card games and gifts


At a recent gathering I watched a group of children playing a game that taught eternal lessons...  

Each child was given five cards.  If a matching card was drawn by the dealer, they exchanged their card for a gift.  This continued until all the gifts were distributed.  

Once the gifts were all handed out, if a child's card matched the drawn card they were able to take a gift from another child.

The game was initially fun and there was  laughter and happy voices and clapping.  There were a few, “she has more than me” and “oh I wanted that one” but mostly there was joy.  

As the second phase of the game began things changed.  It was gradual and body language showed an increasing reluctance to continue the game.  There were tears, “but it is mine!” and there was no more laughter.  No encouraging words were spoken.  No clapping.  

Each time a card was drawn you could hear the intake of little breaths and the sigh of relief when gifts were safe from hands that meant to take them.

One little one had pulled her gifts close to her body so they were not all visible.

Another little one hunched his body over his so others couldn't see his at all.

Still another put hers in her lap so they were not found.

One child (granted a wee bit older or perhaps aware of the end of the game) proudly had his gifts on the table and even offered them to other children when they were able to take from another.

The game ended as tears flowed and the melt downs began.  And then….

The children could exchange gifts.  That didn’t begin well as the concept of trading was foreign to a few of the youngest.  Once there was understanding, it ended well and all left the table with at least one gift they really wanted and most with two.  

The smiles, laughter, and clapping returned.

Am I the only one that has those times I see something and  know that God is going to teach me something?  It is when I need that smack upside the head God usually brings it to mind.  I wish I could say it doesn’t happen that often, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth.

In this game I knew a lesson was coming…

It was in the hiding of gifts, the protecting of the gifts, the tears, the meltdowns, and especially in watching the openness of the one willing to put his gifts out for all to see.  

Even in that moment, I knew I wanted to be like him. 

I want to put my gifts on the table and say, “here they are God, use them.”  Instead I more often am guilty of hiding or protecting my gifts, somehow thinking if he can’t see them God can’t use them.  Silly in black and white, but sadly too often true.

I find myself wanting to hoard my gifts or hide them until I choose to share.  

When I do that not only do I loose, but so do those around me and so does the kingdom.

I want to be strong enough to say yes when my figurative card is drawn or when someone else is in need of what I have.

I want to be braver about sharing my gifts, about putting them on the table, letting others see them and benefit from them. 

Rather than hiding them, I want to be able to use my gifts to further the kingdom of God. 

Lord help me open my hands and let go of my "cards".  Give me the courage to lay my gifts on the table and remember they are your gifts not mine.

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