This envelope has been haunting me for an entire year.
A year ago, on Christmas Eve, we sat in the family room as my husband passed out tiny pieces of paper and envelopes. After reading from the Bible about the birth of Jesus and the ultimate gift that would follow, he encouraged us all to think through the ways we could give our lives and time back to Jesus in 2018.
I sat there praying earnestly about all of the ways I wanted to love and serve people in the coming year. I wrote my small offering on the paper, sealed the envelope and placed it with the others next to the small Taiwanese nativity set my husband inherited from his parents.
When Christmas was over and we packed up the decorations, the envelopes were placed inside the box holding the wooden holy couple and their newborn baby. The idea was to leave it there for a year and bring it back out to read/evaluate 365 days later.
It is almost 2019 and I am still sitting here holding the letter, unopened. I’m afraid to open it. I’ve thought of it a thousand times over the course of the year. Am I doing enough? Did I squander away twelve months of my life? What if I open the letter and realize that I didn’t even come close to fulfilling the gift to Jesus that was promised? I had some really lofty goals last December. I was going to write a book. Ha! I was going to convince my husband to open our home to foster children. I was planning to encourage more, be more, do more.
As I sit and process, it seems like a good time to read what was written.
“My gift to Jesus this year is my obedience to go where he calls me and use the gifts He gave me. No fear about $ – just trust and obedience – wrapped with joy.”
Sounds like that girl was ready to hop a flight to Africa or adopt an orphan.
It also sounds like that girl had her own ideas about what serving Jesus looks like. Perhaps God didn’t need her to go to Africa, he needed her to flop around a church office writing things and encouraging people in ministry. Maybe he needed her to pour into the lives of the children He had already given her or pour into the marriage He built for her. Maybe God was only calling this girl to travel in a ten mile radius and be content with her part time job.
I can tell you for sure that these revelations are hitting this girl in the face as she writes them. WOW!
I’ve been haunted by all of the places I haven’t gone, and all of the children I didn’t adopt when maybe that wasn’t God’s “big ask” of my life in the first place. Did you notice that in my little letter to Jesus, I put a pretty big word in there twice? I didn’t notice until just now. “OBEDIENCE.” For a natural rule breaker like me, obedience is a pretty big promise.
Maybe my gift to Jesus this year needs to be an open heart to how HE wants to spend my life. No preconceived ideas born out of my desire to “do more”…just a simple desire to HEAR what HE is asking me to do. Maybe I won’t have to spend 2019 worried about all of the ways I think I’m falling short. Instead, I’ll know that I have listened in all of the big and small ways that matter.