When Hope Became Reality

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Lavishness leapt up at us the minute we signed for delivery. Three oversized boxes awaited us at our Taiwanese gatehouse, and we were glad both of us came to collect. Their bulk and weight would have proved an unmanageable challenge for just one person. 

A couple we knew in grad school had asked us to send their church our family’s Christmas list. Recognizing the cost of international shipping, we carefully compiled a light-weight listing. Evidently, this didn’t suffice, for Karen insisted on a more robust enumeration, which should include our sizes and preferences. 

Several weeks had passed since this exchange. Now, we examined the bounty heaped on our dining room table. Although each package was encased entirely in humble Kraft paper, their heft and size evinced its abundance. As the box knife sliced through the strapping tape, our family of four stared wide-eyed at its plentiful contents. 

Lemonade, dressing mix, cider mix, and seasoning mix. Doritos, Fritos, Cheetos, and Lays. Tennis shoes, soccer shoes, house slippers, pumps. Cherry Jello, marshmallows, Lego sets, and videocassettes. Dresses, belts, shorts, and sweatshirts. Magazines, fashion jeans, Jelly Beans, and (by all means) jewelry for teens. Skittles, Sweet Tarts, Airheads, and Warheads. Make-up by Clinique, novels by the week, and an abundance of Dr. Pepper (so to speak).

Mark even received a Craftsman power router!

Now, almost thirty years later, I asked our daughters about their memory of this gift. “It was like a Mary Poppins bag,” one exclaimed. “(That gift) just kept going and going!” “I agree,” said the other. “I remember feeling so seen by the church. When we received that gift, I didn’t have to feel or be anything for anyone else.” There were no stipulations on our work or character to receive this abundance. In fact, most of the church had never met our family. 

If a body of believers can exhibit this kind of extravagance, will not our God be even more generous with His gifts to us? Are we guilty of assuming He expects more from us than He gives? If faith is one of His favorite gifts, won’t our cheerful, profuse Giver grant us even more than a one-time overseas delivery? Wouldn’t His gift align with a gift that keeps giving? 

(What? Kind of like a seed?)

As well loved as we felt upon receipt of our sumptuous gift, God always gives more. Whatever size your faith, it arrives with the ability to reproduce abundantly given proper soil, sun, and water. An apple seed sprouts not only one tree. In time, it bears fruit containing an orchard within each apple. Likewise, when we plant our grain of faithe, and weed our thoughts from doubt, confidence in God will bear a bumper crop of more faith.

Do not lament the state of your faith. Each seed grows differently according to the conditions it grows in. A seed planted in South Carolina will grow differently than one planted in West Texas. A growing faith will look different from one person to another. Our Green Thumb Gardener has planted a power-packed seed of faith in you, ideally suited for your conditions. We need not compare our faith to someone else’s but be content, knowing that our Lavish Father knows what will grow best in our soil. 

Pray with me:

Lavish Giver, thank You for granting me an abundant gift of faith. I’m learning that I do not need any more faithe — I simply need to use what You’ve given. Teach me how to plant what I have and recognize anxiety for what it is — invasive and destructive. I desire to begin harvesting the generous result rather than whining for more seed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.