Friday, March 06, 2009

every good and perfect gift . . .

Wednesday was the best day ever! A perfect gift from God.

Candyce and I spent most of the day in Salem. We drove over so she could get her taxes done, but we stopped at the YWAM base before her appointment. Candyce told me that the DTS speaker that week was phenomenal.

And I was not disappointed!

Oh, it took me a while to warm up to him. Ken Helser, founder of A Place for the Heart ministries, is an older gentleman, but filled with childlike joy. During the first hour of the 3 hour-long session, he'd break into song every few minutes (he taught us a song about monkeys and then made us all dance wildly to another tune he'd composed). But he finally decided he'd gotten the wiggles out of his audience and got to the heart of the matter.

He talked about his journey with God. Ken told many wonderful stories, but it was his final anecdote that really grabbed me. Here is the way I recall it:

When Ken was a boy, around age 12, he asked his mother for a set of paints for Christmas. He'd seen a boxed set at a shop in town--it had 22 shiny tubes of paint with an amazing array of color and he wanted it more than he'd wanted anything in his short life!

Christmas day arrived and much to Ken's disappointment, instead of the fancy box of 22 paints, he opened up an emptied-out Christmas card box that held only five fat tubes of color. He said he was so mad he actually said his first public cuss word! But his mother, being the wise and patient woman that she was, turned the situation into a teaching moment.

She took Ken into the kitchen and showed him how to make every color imaginable from those paints. And he soon became so lost in the wonder of creation that he forgot all about the paint set he'd longed for.

Until his mother shared the rest of the story . . . .

She eventually told Ken that she'd actually purchased the set of 22 paints--even though it took half his father's weekly pay check to do it. But as the shop owner was wrapping the item, he asked who it was for. When Ken's mother said it was for him, the owner unwrapped the box and gave her back the money.

"You will ruin him if you give your son all these colors at once," he informed her. "Just give him the basics and teach him to create all other colors from these. That is what a young artist needs."

So Ken's mother followed his advice and an artist was born that Christmas day. Ken showed us a print from a painting he'd done of that humble Christmas card box, filled with its dubious treasure. He'd painted is as a gift for his mother a few years back . . .

I was so struck by how much--and how often--I react like Ken did that Christmas morning. Excitedly opening up a gift from my heavenly Father, only to curse it in my disappointment because it wasn't what I wanted or asked for.

But it has always been just what I've needed. Kind of like that wonderful prayer that has been floating around for years:

I asked God for strength that I might achieve. I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things. I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy. I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men. I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.

Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am, among all men, most richly blessed. (author unknown)
Amen and Amen!