Doug Manning tells the story of a friend of his. His friend visited the same European city on two different occasions with two different experiences. On the first he had just graduated high school and was selected to represent his school and his state at a conference in Europe. He slept in a gymnasium in a sleeping bag on the floor, shared a bathroom with a large group, and ate food that was prepared “quick and easy” for such a large group. He had a blast, the best experience of his life was the way he described this trip.
On the second trip he had become a successful businessman and could afford the very best the same European city had to offer. He stayed in the best five star hotel and ate food prepared by famous chefs at their best restaurants. By the end of the week he realized that he was complaining about something at every meal. In the hotel, he found fault in the way they made his bed, the temperature of the room and the bathwater and how the coffee tasted.
He asked himself, “Why the difference in the two trips? My first visit here was not nearly as comfortable as I am now, yet now I find reason to complain about everything.” After some reflection he realized that the difference was in the gift. He saw the first trip as a gift that he didn’t deserve, but was very grateful to have been selected to receive. The second trip he saw as his right. He had worked hard, saved, invested wisely, and he deserved the best that his money could buy.
How do you see your life? If you see life as a gift that you don’t deserve, you’re likely to be grateful for the gift of another day, a family that loves you, a job that pays the bills, and health that lets you enjoy all those things.
If you see life as something that is your right, that you deserve, that no one is going to deprive you of it not matter how hard they try…you might be miserable. No matter how soft the bed, how tasty the food, if life is not seen as a gift, what’s the point?
The words “give, giving, gift” are used over 1,800 times in the Bible including this one.
“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11)
My prayer today goes like this, “Thank you Father for your gift to me, a gift that I don’t deserve but that I’m extremely grateful that you gave. Thank you Jesus for coming to my world and giving your life for me. As I give and receive gifts in the coming days, help me to keep in mind your great gift to all mankind. Amen.”