My grandson Scott once gave me two bugs. Oh, not real ones. These are ornamental bugs with a terracotta look. One is dark red; the other, orange. Both have bulging eyes, multicolored spots, springy metal antenna and hooks for feet. They’re maybe 3.5 inches high.
One bug hangs on the handle of a mason jar filled with clear yellow balls and topped with a solar lid that lights at night; the other sits by the jar.
These bugs warm my heart because Scott picked them out for me himself. He knows my love of nature and wanted to give me something that his little boy heart loved as well.
When women at his church made blankets to take to the sick, he grabbed one for me because “Nana’s always cold.” How thoughtful.
I love the gifts I get from grandchildren that reflect their knowledge of who I am. On my kitchen wall hangs an oven mitt my granddaughter Rachel brought back from a mission trip to Haiti. It was made by women there, and Rachel knows I support missions.
As I look around my home I see many such gifts, each one special, each one picked with thought and concern.
Perhaps it would be good if we saw the people, things and situations in our lives as special gifts God has picked out just for us.
We tend to take people for granted. Our spouses will always be there to bring home the strawberries, to do the dishes, to take out the trash. Our children may annoy us with antics more often than delight us with cuteness.
Our neighbors may be ordinary people whom we rarely see and make little effort to do so. After all, we don’t have that much in common.
What about our colleagues, the people at work? Do we know anything about their families? Their cares and their concerns? Their joys and their pleasures?
The people in our churches come and go Sunday after Sunday. We say “Hi” and “See you next week.” We may be known as a friendly church because we offer friendly greetings, but do we ever invite these people into our homes? If not, why not?
But what if God brings people into our lives for specific purposes? What if He gives them to us to enrich our lives? And for us to enrich their lives? What are we missing out on by failing to appreciate them, by not getting to know them?
We might also look at the situations in our lives as provided by a loving God. That burnt dinner. That challenge at work. That car that won’t start. Challenges bless us with the gift of patience, one of the spiritual fruits listed in scripture. Challenges force us to rely on others, to work together to solve a problem. And as we do, we may be God’s image-bearer to a watching world.
What about our homes? Are they not gifts? From the humblest hut to the most spacious mansion, our surroundings can make us happy. It’s not what we have, but how we value what we have.
So look around at the persons, places and things that touch your life. How do you feel about them? Is there anything you might do to enhance a relationship? Or improve your environment? Or change an attitude?
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Perhaps that means we shall stop wanting what’s on the other side of the road and appreciate what grows in our own backyard.