Unopened Gifts

Years ago when I had to be in the hospital for several days, a friend gave me holding cross. It came in this lovely gift box with a poem that I have long since lost. But the cross is well worn. I still hold it often in prayer. I may not be able to find where I put that all important reminder note but I can always find my holding cross by my comfy chair or on my desk.

Several years later, I was visiting in someone’s home and on a shelf they had the very same cross neatly displayed in the original gift box with the printed poem and the stretchy gold cord keeping the plastic lid in place. It made me so sad to see this cross shaped icon1 unused and contained. And, it made me wonder about how much we miss out on the glory of God’s gifts by leaving them boxed up.

I have no idea why this individual had chosen to display the cross rather than use it. As I’ve spent time with people who are seeking comfort, guidance, and love I’ve witnessed several possible reasons why one would do so. For so many of us it’s because we don’t feel worthy or that we haven’t earned God’s grace and love. For some it’s because without really being able to articulate it or even realizing we’re doing it, we’ve decided we know better than God or we just can’t wait on God and take matters into our own hands.

Whether you recognize yourself in the above paragraph or you don’t, the activity of resting in God’s presence is a needed and necessary part of our journey. If you have something – a holding cross or an Anglican rosary or a Catholic rosary or a prayer book or a beautiful icon – something concrete to hold, I invite you to get it and hold it. I’ll wait while you find it. Let it remind you that physical-ness and spiritual-ness are equal parts of our humanness.

Let this item you are holding take the place of the need to be busy (often for the sake of just being busy) and rest in God’s presence. Accept this amazing gift of God’s presence where you are, as you are. What you are holding isn’t God’s presence but a reminder that God is always present (even if you can’t find any type of icon to hold). Hopefully it will become a reminder, too, for you to stop the busy and rest each time you see it from now on.

Hear God in the stillness and silence saying “I love you” with no condition, no price, no qualifications, just grace, freely given by our Creator God, the One who is Love.

In what ways are you aware that you have kept Gods gifts in the pretty wrapping instead of using them as God intends?

1The original purpose of icons was like that of stained glass windows in churches – to teach the stories of scripture and of the saints to those who were not taught to read. Icons are tools to help us in prayer by aligning our physical and spiritual awareness. We do not expect to find God in the icon but for the icon to enable us to focus on God’s presence with us.

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