Dora the Explorer is my daughter’s favorite show. Cassie and I love it because it’s educational (man, has it helped her vocabulary expand!), and because it’s not schizoid and random like Sponge Bob Square Pants.
Today Cassie and I were on our weekly lunch date and while walking through the mall we saw a “Backpack,” Dora’s trusty companion backpack that has his own special song and carries all the items Dora needs during her adventures. The price of Backpack is normal nearly $30, but its sale price was down to $4. So we got it…fully expecting the Phoebus to get really, really stoked.
About 5 minutes ago we gave it to her. She looked at it. Got a smile on her face. Pulled the packing paper out. Then threw Backpack on the ground, taking absolute joy in the packing paper!
Immediately, with a smile on my face (because, after all, I could smile – I only spent $4, not $30), I realized that this is exactly what I do with God.
In the cross of Jesus, God gave the world the greatest gift it could ever receive – Himself! And for free, no less!
But in so many ways we are prone to look at God’s gift, throw it down on the ground, and get distracted by the “filling”: Blessings are good, but they are not the God who gives them. Feelings are good, but they are hardly ever consistent. Theology is good, but theological pronouncements can never fully represent or take the place of the God to whom they point. Material possessions are good, but they can distract from God. Love is good, but when pursued for itself, it leaves us lacking.
These things are mere “filling” when compared with the real gift. We are permitted to delight in them, but often we throw down the gift and trade it for something that, well, ends up being nothing more than a bowl of soup compared to the family inheritance, the packing paper when compared to the Backpack.
The real gift is the God who blesses us even when we don’t see it; the real gift is the God who is present even when we lament his absence; the real gift is the God who cannot be shackled by our systematic theology but seeks always to draw us deeper and deeper into Himself (a place no systematic theology can fully comprehend); the real gift is the God who can call us to give all our possessions away in order to have eternal life; the real gift is the God who is Love in the flesh, in it’s purest form – self-giving love that serves others and seeks them above Itself.
So let’s delight in the gift, not just the packing paper. After all, when the gift IS the Giver, delighting in the gift IS delighting in the Giver.
What are some other ways we trade the Gift for the packing paper? Is there a time where God showed you this was exactly what you were doing? How did He redirect your focus?