Skip to main content

Good Gifts

“Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-
seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish,
do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a
thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” – Matthew 7:7-11 (MSG)

When I worked in wilderness therapy I witnessed a lot of interesting behaviors, and often had to
think out of the box in how I responded. One day a youth ran up to the lake house on base camp.
Nobody was there, nobody was telling him anything, or even talking to him. There were no triggers to indicate why he would be acting out, but he was. When he arrived at the lake house porch he grabbed one of the chairs off the porch, he went to great efforts to pull it off the porch while I watched from a distance. Once he got it off the porch he then did his best to throw it into the lake. He had to wade into the water in order to get it in deeper, because he was not able to throw it very far. Once he was satisfied with the chair’s submersion depth he grabbed a second chair from the porch and he threw it off the porch, and started the same process again. I started to approach and he looked at me with a wild look in his eyes. He wanted to be challenged so that he could justify his behavior to himself. I looked at him thoughtfully and I said, “You have to put your hips into it”, and I gestured the motion that would help him throw it further. He responded by melting to the ground and crying for the next 30 minutes.

As I processed with the young man he eventually told me that he was upset because he wanted
a different pair of boots. The boots he had were giving him blisters and they hurt when he hiked. I
checked the fit and they were indeed a little snug. He had an upcoming weekend trip that included a long hike and he was frustrated because he knew it was going to hurt. The strange thing is, he never asked anyone for a new pair of boots. 

He had grown up with a great deal of trauma in his life. He didn’t trust the adults in his life to provide for his needs. When he asked his father for something, he was indeed tricked, scared, given sawdust and snakes on his plate, metaphorically speaking. I encountered this young man when he was in need of something without any perceived way to get it, he relieved the stress through conflict, the only model for stress relief he ever encountered. When I did not enter into conflict, he no longer knew what to do.

As you encounter difficult people in life you may be tempted to judge them, but remember that there is always a need behind any behavior. Some people never learn to ask, so they act out their needs instead. They have been taught by life experience that it is not safe to ask for anything. As you consider your response, remember that you may be the only example of a good gift giver they ever have. That is high calling indeed.


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Looking Back?

"Remember Lot’s wife!  "   -  Luke 17:32 This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible.  Jesus was talking about the terrible circumstances that will be present when he comes back.  He was warning people that they would not see it coming.  People will be going about their business and then suddenly, without warning, chaos will take over.  People will need to flee, and he warns them not to go back for their possessions, for anything.  This is where he says "Remember Lot's wife!".  In desperation he pleads with them to remember the fate of this woman.  To his listeners it would bring to mind the story of Lot and his family fleeing the destruction of Sodom.  They too were warned not to go back for anything, not to even look back, but Lot's wife did look back.  And when she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.   Metaphorically speaking this is often what happens when we look back.  We get frozen in place and we cease moving forward.  I have a childhood frie