If you found a wrapped gift in the park or on the subway, would you open it? You’d think twice wouldn’t you? I would. Not knowing where or who it came from would scare me off.
How many of God’s gifts have we refused to open because of the packaging… race, culture, denomination, economic level, educational background, gender? Because the giver has a different skin color, speaks with an accent, wears funny looking clothes, has tattoos, goes to a church different from ours, speaks in tongues, doesn’t speak in tongues and all the rest. We turn away or choose not to engage, missing blessings and divine appointments left and right.
Life is defined by relationships. That’s why we exist. God’s whole deal with Jesus was about relationship . . . a way to forgive and be forgiven for the sin in our past AND a way to live forward-facing toward God and others. Forgiveness allows us to deal with people in our past. Acceptance lets us connect with people in our future.
Carl Sandburg – writer, poet and curator of words was asked his least favorite. He said he hated the word “exclusive”. I think about that a lot. Who am I “excluding”? Who scares me? Who do I turn away from? Who do I avoid? Who do I dread spending time with? Whose “package” scares me so much I don’t care if I ever open it?
In every interaction with another human being, we have the opportunity to bless or curse. We bless by listening and entering into conversation. We bless with eye contact. With patience. By not finishing their sentences for them. By staying in their ‘frame of reference’ and not self-referencing. We bless by not being in a hurry.
Church people talk about ‘open’ and ‘closed’ doors all the time. What if the stranger . . . the new person at work, the neighbor who just moved in, the guy you’ve never met who sits down beside you at Starbucks . . . what if those people are ‘open doors’ into lives God wants to touch through you? And maybe even gifts He has for you that can’t be opened until you disregard the wrapping and connect? Yes, it takes time. But if we are ‘the light of the world’, how can we shine into the lives of others unless we open some packages from strangers and engage with people outside our holy huddle and comfort zone?
Will you ask God to give you just one divine appointment with a stranger today?
Prayer: “Father, give me an awareness of the new person you want me to ‘bless’ with love and acceptance today. And give me the courage to reach out with the love of Jesus when you point them out. Make me an instrument of your grace and love. Amen”