Monday, September 23, 2013

On Bed Sheets and Other Gifts

Have you ever thought about what it would be like sleeping in bed sheets made out of cardboard? Have you imagined the rough texture of your least favorite cereal box against your soft little face as your heavy eye lids weighed themselves closed? Perhaps you've considered the crinkling of packaging paper between your toes as you tucked yourself in to sleep? Well friends, I haven't just pondered these thoughts, but I've lived them out. I wasn't in third world country and it wasn't at a bizarre type of sleepover in elementary school. It was under my own roof, in my own home, sleeping in my own bed.

This year I didn't really want or need anything for my birthday, but as per usual, my mom inquired. She's good at that, and she's good at giving gifts that I enjoy- especially when she does said inquiring. I couldn't think of anything except for maybe a new set of bed sheets- which really seems like a lame thing to ask for, but ya know- some times all you really can think of is bed sheets. So, when my birthday package arrived (with far more than I expected) I wasn't all that surprised to find new sheets gift wrapped with a bow.

For at least a month those bed sheets sat in the package in the corner of my room. They just sat there, doing nothing, not even looking particularly pretty- just packaged up, sitting in the corner, doing nothing. Then one day, I'm not sure what happened, but I opened them up.

Perhaps it was because I had some spare time, or maybe it was because I finally got tired of looking at them just sitting around doing nothing, but at some point I figured I might as well put them to use. They did me no good in the corner, and they certainly weren't adding any visual appeal to my apartment. So I opened the package and threw them on the bed. I didn't know what I was getting into... I assumed I was just getting into new bed sheets. After all, that's all they were... new bed sheets.

Imagine sleeping in cardboard sheets your entire life. Or maybe, imagine sleeping in butcher paper for the last five years of your life. Pretend for a moment that your pillow case is made out of empty toilet paper rolls and your blankets are hard and stiff newspaper. Now picture yourself being sent off to a bed made completely out of down comforters of angels wings and bed sheets threaded out of cloud nine. That's a pretty wildly stark difference.

And that was my life...

And that's all wonderful, and fun to talk about- "I got new bed sheets that feel like angels kisses..." and "I basically sleep in bed sheets that make a baby's behind feel like sand paper," except you've probably forgotten that I mentioned I left the bed sheets in the corner of my room for a month. A month of sleepless nights, a month of sweet dreams missed, a month of simple joys stolen from me and all of my own accord. I could have enjoyed them sooner, but I didn't really understand what I was missing out on. I could have benefitted from them the night they arrived, but I delayed- they were just another set of bed sheets.

Why am I telling you this? I'm telling you because I learned a lesson the day I opened my gift and finally used it.

Sometimes we're given gifts, and for one reason or another, be it laziness or pride or whatever, we relent of using them, we refrain from opening them. Maybe we're afraid, maybe we're uncertain as to if they actually are better than what we already have going for us, maybe it's just because we don't know how to use them, and maybe we just don't want to misuse them. And now I'm not talking about bed sheets (obviously). Recently I've learned a lot about the gifts that God gives us. First of all, he gives us more than we deserve. Second he gives us more than we imagine. Third he gives us more than we give him credit.

To my brothers and sisters-
You have a wildly gracious father who is determined to show you His goodness. He cares for you, He loves you, and He gives you good gifts. He didn't just save you then say, "nothing more for you," but instead saved you and just keeps on giving, and giving, and giving. His grace abounds more and more. It's not too late to dig up the talents that you buried so long ago. The ground may be harder now, but it's worth it to pull them out. He has given you gifts for you to invest in His kingdom (see Matthew 25:14-30). I'd challenge you today to consider the gifts that He's given you that you either a) have taken for granted or b) have refused to put to use. Don't get me wrong, I know the difficulty of putting to use gifts when you're afraid they're going to backfire on you. I know it's easy to try and cover them up and maybe, just maybe give them the mask of not being a gift at all. But I'd challenge you to seek out the gifts that you've been given, for the purpose of building the Body, of building the Kingdom, and of glorifying the Father and put them to use. I don't know what that would look like for you or by what means it will take, but I do know that every good and perfect gift comes from Him (see James 1:7) and that your father is a good gift giver (see Luke 11:13). Leverage, with everything in you, every gift He has given you. Don't let them sit in the corner of your room watching you live a less than exceptional life. Don't allow them to watch you as you pass up days of missed opportunities, or months of missed experiences, or a lifetime of missed blessings.

To the non-believer-
First, thanks for taking the time to read this post. Genuinely, I'm grateful that you would take some time to read about my bed sheets and things I'm learning.

Second, there is a gift for you. It has your name on it. It's been waiting for you to receive it, or "open it up and put in on" so to speak. There's always the option of living your life and when you get to the end of it, that's when you'll receive that gift, that's when you'll accept it. There's that option, but you're not promised that opportunity at the end of your life. Maybe you've thought, "Jesus? Maybe later, like when I'm on my death bed, when I let it all sink in on that one day I'm going to die," I'd challenge you to consider what comes next... right now.

I could have left the bed sheets on the floor thinking, "one day I'll pick up those bed sheets." And I did, for a long time. But what if that one day never came? What if, bare with me, what if I died before I used the bed sheets, before I experienced them, before I could enjoy them? I know they're just bed sheets, seriously, I get that, but I'm trying to make the point of not deferring salvation to a moment which you may never get to see coming. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. To delay salvation will only make your heart grow sick, you will only go on, day by day, with no hope; you'll continue waking up morning by morning not knowing what the point is; you'll go to sleep night by night dissatisfied and filled with anxiety. But to receive salvation is life- it is to go on day by day with hope, to wake up each morning knowing that, though yesterday may have been rough, this is a new day filled with new opportunities and new purposes; it is to rest your head on your pillow with peace, knowing the God of the universe is working in you to make you more than you or anyone else could have ever imagined for yourself. It seems like a lot, because it is a lot.

Jesus on the cross is more than a story you grew up hearing. Jesus on the cross is the gift of salvation purchased for you by his own blood. I'd encourage you to take him up on his gift and watch him pour out blessings upon your life.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," -Ephesians 2:8 (emphasis added)

If you'd like to know more about knowing God I'd encourage you to check out this quick video by clicking here.

And finally, just so you all know- even though my bed sheets are probably just Target brand- they feel like Egyptian cotton 5,000,000 thread count.

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