I find it hard to buy gifts for some people. Either I don’t know them well enough, or they don’t have any specific hobbies or interests that stand out. That’s when gift cards are so priceless. There are times, however, when I’m forced to scour a store’s shelves for something appropriate. Usually, I end up walking away from the register with a “that will do” attitude. Shopping done, I’m headed home with my mediocre gift.
When I put myself in God’s shoes and consider all the millions of prayer requests He has to fill, I start to think cheap. What would be the most time efficient, least expensive method of filling those orders? I definitely would settle for a gift certificate. I can picture the sky filled with gift cards as they rain down on humanity below my heavenly realm. Orders filled, I’m ready for some relaxation.
Much to the world’s relief, I am not God fulfilling the desires of people’s hearts. They can be thankful that God doesn’t treat their “gift requests” with my method. Instead of settling for the basic, least expensive product, He’ll take it a notch above their expectations.
Ephesians 3:20 & 21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
I am a testimony of that “exceedingly abundantly.” A year ago I put in my request to God for a rent house in town. I had been living in a trailer outside of town and was ready for a change. I patiently waited, thanking God every day for providing a new place to live for the price I needed. No stress involved – just a peaceful confidence that something would open up. Shortly after, I was approached with an offer to sell me a house belonging to one of our church members. Now that was totally out of my personal expectation! I had dismissed the idea of buying a house because I was sure I couldn’t afford it. Obviously, God thought different. Not only was the house within my budget, but it was already painted on the inside with colors that complimented my décor and furniture. How could it get any better?
God doesn’t deal with our needs like an obligation or a basic order that has to be filled. He takes our needs personal because He is our Father. He loves us and wants the best for us. Even His plan of salvation was more than we deserved when He sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin. He could have stopped there, content with the effort of seeing Jesus’ blood spilled. Instead, He added extra “benefits” to the package that provided for more than just a home in heaven. It also provided for a fulfilled life on earth with healing, provision, peace, and protection. That’s “exceedingly abundantly” – a gift that tops any human effort.
As I think about my gift-giving habits, I’m challenged to follow God’s example. Will convenience inspire me to serve and give just enough, or will a heart of love push me to do more than is expected? With the power that is working in me, I believe I can follow God’s example. A surprise gift will be ready to exceed someone’s expectations!