00 Intro: Gifts, Not Wages

God used to be a miser.

He rewarded my efforts to please Him with just enough payment to keep me alive. I saw other people with perpetual smiles and easy laughs, and I envied them. They must have done wonderful things that impressed God so much that He gave them better lives than me.

Maybe God is a miser to you, too. People around you fall into His favor, but you’re missing out for some reason. You wonder what you could do to please Him so that your life could be as smooth and restful as theirs.

Here’s a secret I’ve discovered: God is not a miserly employer after all. He is the most gracious, loving Master I could wish for. Not only is He the provider of all good gifts, He is my comfort and companion. If I were to write a thousand words only about Him, I couldn’t describe Him well enough. But I hope the next pages will open for you a new perspective of the God you might now know only as a grudging employer.

It is Satan who gives wages. God gives gifts.

I learned the difference between wages and gifts when I helped my aunt who had just had a baby. I did the normal household things—laundry and cleaning—for one day. I didn’t work hard; I remember having time to look at photo albums. That evening as my uncle sat on the couch, he casually wrote a check and handed it to me. My jaw dropped when I saw he’d written it for $100. I hadn’t done nearly enough to merit that much. My uncle didn’t give me wages that day. He gave me a gift worth far more than the help I’d given his wife.

In the same way, I don’t get wages from God in exchange for service rendered. He gives me gifts—innumerable gifts every day. His creativity wraps these gifts in unpredictable ways. Some come wrapped in metallic or marbled or flowered paper, but others look ugly, encased in burlap or brown paper bags.

Why does He give gifts? And why not at least wrap them all nicely?

In this book, we’ll explore His generous nature, and we will try to find out some of His purposes for giving gifts with such variety.

What kind of gifts has He sent you? Let me guess. Femininity. Family. Singleness. Hobbies. Pain. Dreams. Many things! All are gifts to receive—gifts we’ll talk about later.

My gift of singleness used to look ugly to me. For a long time, I wanted to keep it at arms’ length and tried to avoid looking at it. I didn’t want to unwrap the brown paper. I wanted the pretty gifts that my friends were getting. God, the miser, was cheating me.

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