She sat contentedly in the middle of the living room, surrounded by boxes of various sizes. All were wrapped in cheerful holiday paper and tied in colorful ribbons. Her small hands gently traced the edges of each box. As her attention drifted from one package to the next, her eyes lit up in renewed excitement.
The couple looked at each other and shrugged. The little girl had entered into their family nest only weeks before Christmas. Ecstatic over the long awaited adoption, they had overindulged their new four year old daughter. Though the details were lacking, it was clear she'd been through a lot in her short life.
"Why doesn't she want to open them?" the new father asked his wife for the upteenth time. "Doesn't she realize there are toys inside? She could be having so much fun with the stuff we bought her." Frustrated by the lack of progress, he turned his attention back to the task of diassembling their Christmas tree.
"I don't know. She seems to enjoy her presents just as they are. I don't think we should push it. For all we know, this may be her first time receiving Christmas gifts," his wife responded in a hushed tone.
The mother sat herself next to the little girl and stroked the bangs that tickled her new daughter's forehead. "Sweetheart, there's a pretty doll inside. Want to take a look?" she coaxed gently.
The little girl shook her head no and continued to admire her collection of boxes. Whatever she had been through in previous foster homes had silenced her speech. Clutching the smallest box, she looked into the face of her new mom and smiled. The little girl insisted on having the presents nearby since receiving them days ago on Christmas morning. Even at bedtime, she patiently carted her loot to her new princess bedroom and lined the gifts next to her twin bed. They were the last thing she saw before falling asleep, and the first thing that greeted her in the morning.
"It's been eight days. How long are we going to let her keep this up?" The dad joined his wife and daughter on the carpet. "This one has a soft puppy inside. Don't you want to see what he looks like?" He handed her a box wrapped in snowmen and sparkly blue ribbon.
Again, she shook her head side to side and clutched the box in her arms. Little did he know, it would be days, weeks, even months before the little girl would give up her pretty packages to discover the real gifts inside.
Are we sometimes like this little girl? Does our Father feel the frustration and concern these parents wrestled with? He lavishes us with gifts too numerous to count. And what do we do with them? Do we even acknowledge them? Do we admire them from a safe distance? Or do we pause and take the time to look inside, appreciate, and put to good use the gifts He's given to us?
This four year old has much to teach us. It may have taken her months, but she finally got to the place where she trusted her parents enought to take them at their word. She began to listen...and believe...and do what they encouraged her to do. She opened her gifts. And she welcomed each one with open arms so she could experience them fully.
I have my own share of unopened gifts. Forgiveness for something I did years ago that still haunts me. A healing balm for a deep emotional wound that continues to fester at times. New purpose for a painful trial that left me wallowing in regrets. Unopened gifts. All around me. Attractive to the eye, but do I dare trust enough to open them? What if I don't like what I find inside?
But my Father is persistent in His generosity. Come on, child. Open My gifts. I wrapped them just for you. Because you are Mine. And I love you. Come on. What are you waiting for? Open them, and see all that I've given you.
"Many people neglect 'unwrapping' God's gift...they receive His forgiveness but fail to discover the marvelous treasures made available to them as children of God."
"The gift is wrapped and ready, waiting for you to open and enjoy all God has given."
"We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift."
~John 1:16 The Message
Copyright 2013 by Julie Cowell. All rights reserved.