It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while I pick out the wrong gift for someone. Of course they don’t actually say that, but I can tell. And that awkward experience leaves me feeling disappointed and inadequate. I want to bring my friends pleasure by my gifts. I want them to feel loved and blessed by my token of friendship. That’s my goal. But sometimes I miss it.
Last week I was reading in James about how we can bless our Lord and Father with our tongues (3:9). Immediately I thought of the familiar refrain from the psalms, “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” (Psalm 103:1 and elsewhere).
My heart was stirred. I wanted to bless God. But how? How could I possibly bless Him? He blesses me all the time. But me bless Him? How could that even be possible? And I got that awkward, inadequate feeling I get when my well-intended gift misses the mark.
So I asked Him those questions. “How can I possibly bless You, God? You have everything already! And Your standards are so high! What could my little offering possibly mean to you?”
His answer came right away, firm, but so very gentle. It’s not that hard, Child. I’m really not so hard to please! There are 1,000 ways to bless Me!
Immediately I thought of Ann Voskamp’s book, A Thousand Gifts. Inspired by that book, currently I am keeping a journal of God’s gifts to me. I hope sometime my record will reach 1,000. Could God be alluding to something like that?
The thought made me smile. A thousand ways to bless God! Just imagine!
In my mind’s eye, I saw a tiny child offering a bouquet of wildflowers—weeds, actually—to her mother. But her mother didn’t see weeds—she saw beauty, generosity, love, and joy. She was blessed by her little daughter’s gift.
I thought about my attempts to pray, serve, and worship God. My efforts to avoid sin. My desire to be more like Jesus. My struggle to trust God more fully. These? To me, they sometimes look more like weeds than roses. Could these actually be gifts to God? Blessings?
His Spirit reminded me of a passage in Malachi. “Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.A scrollof remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who fearedthe Lord and honored his name” (3:16).
This time in my mind’s eye, I pictured God holding a leather-bound journal. On the cover was inscribed, A Thousand Blessings. In it, He made daily entries of the things His children do to bring Him joy. He got as much delight from recording the ways we—I—bless Him as I do from recording the gifts He brings to my day.
His words came back to me again: I’m really not so hard to please, Child. That happy truth began to take root in my heart. He delights in me, as a loving Father delights in His little child! He doesn’t look at my offerings critically, noticing all their flaws and shortcomings—He looks at my heart, my intent to make Him smile—and He receives my gifts! He accepts and receives me—with joy!
And suddenly I wanted to go outside and gather a whole bouquet of flowers to give to my Abba. I couldn’t—we’re still getting snow here in Colorado. But there are other gifts I can give to God. And I am finding joy in doing that—knowing that my gifts gave Him joy, too.