every gift?

“I am not interested in gobbledygook. Either let me be a clean Deist and say that God wed us to Himself and then ditched us the parking lot of the church to fend for ourselves; or let me declare that it is really the Lord who sends the cardinals I love when I need cheering up. . . . Is our life full of ongoing encounters with God? Are signs and wonders happening around us a regular part of Christian experience?” Andrée Seu (“The cross in the stone.” World 11 Feb. 2012.)

To call them “encounters with God” makes me nervous.  Yes, we know that every good and perfect gift is from above, and so we offer our thanks for the gifts, and I write them, a numbered list, in my journal sometimes, but does it not seem a monstrous audacity to suppose Him always there, pressing the gifts into our little hands?  Yes, we know that not a sparrow falls apart from the will of our Father in heaven, but do we think too highly of ourselves than we ought if we suppose that He ordains the flying of a sparrow across our path on any ordinary [extraordinary] day?

But if the gifts come from Him, then He must be the One giving them; they must come covered in His fingerprints.  If a sparrow cannot fall outside His will, it must fly within His will. And if He is not the One behind the gifts, then I participate in utter absurdity, thanking Him for all of them: for the people who smile and for the frogs that sing and for the mud that squelches in the yard after long rain.

Maybe, though, this is the absurdity: that I, who have preached the scandal of His particular love expressed in my lash pigmentation, should balk at acknowledging that particularity elsewhere? Is it pride then, wearing a humble mask? Are the scruples there because we’d rather He weren’t touching all the details, handing us all the gifts? Do we run about asking questions, because it prevents our being still and knowing? Because as long as there are reasonable reasons to say that we don’t owe absolutely everything to Him, we may feel that somehow we still own ourselves?

We don’t.  But there are the gifts on all sides, pressed into our little hands, reminding us that, though we are small, we are loved with an immense love. And so I continue to say “Thank You.”

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