As I’ve been home on break, I’ve been given the wonderful opportunity to read again just because I enjoy it. Away at school, I read a lot of textbook material, which kills my desire to read anything else once my studies are done. However, this past week, I’ve been eagerly rediscovering the adventure that books can stir in my heart as I reread one of my favorite series.
In the first book of the series, the main character, Kale, is confronted by a man she has pledged to serve. This man, Paladin, has called her to serve him in whatever capacity she is able. However, filled with self-doubt, she realizes that she hasn’t done much to live up to what he has asked. This man is intended to represent Jesus, and the main character, us.
Kale wrestles to find a way to try and put her fears to rest, so she thinks to give Paladin a gift. Then, as she turns the matter over in her mind, she realizes there is nothing she can give to him that is a worthy gift. He notices her sadness, and seeks to remedy the situation.
First, a beautiful instrument appeared on Kale’s lap. Paladin mentions that he would just love it if he could have that instrument, so she hands it over. Then, a ring appeared. He asks for it, and she hands it over. More objects of immense worth continue to appear in Kale’s lap. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she continues to ‘give’ these priceless objects to Paladin until he stops to ask why she’s crying.
“‘What is it Kale? Why are you distressed?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you enjoy giving me gifts?’
“She shrugged, fighting the sadness in her heart.
“‘They don’t mean anything to me,’ she answered. ‘They aren’t mine.’” - Donita K. Paul, Dragon Spell
After letting Kale wrestle with the issues a little while longer, Paladin explains to her that the only gift she can give meaningfully is herself. Without working to make something, or to raise the money to buy something, a gift is meaningless. Thus, when it comes to giving to God (in the book, personified as ‘Wulder’), our only choice is to give ourselves — what we say, what we do, what we think, and how we love.
The most beautiful gift given back to God is ourselves — whole hearted, and wholly devoted to Him.
This is an incredible encouragement to me. Sometimes, I wish there were ways that I could show God that I appreciate Him through a gift, but everything I own is technically His, and everything I do, I doubt. I feel as if my talents are not what they could be, and thus dishonoring to God. But the truth of giving is this: God gave me talents to a certain ability for a reason. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be a meaningful gift. The beauty of a gift comes with the sacrifice and toil behind the scenes. If art were simply the process of painting for a few minutes, then we wouldn’t value the pieces at many millions of dollars.
Similarly, God values us because He spent so much time forming us — and the time we spend here on earth, striving and flourishing within the contexts He’s given us, well, that’s the most beautiful gift we can give Him, and it is worthy of Him. We do not need to fear of not having anything to give to our beloved Creator, because we can offer Him our everything. When we #LiveItLikeJesus, we offer our Heavenly Father the greatest gift we can afford.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” - Romans 12:1 (ESV)