Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Personal Gift

Have you ever read, or heard of, the book Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge?

Captivating was recommended to me as a helpful book to read when I was going through a difficult time in my life. I read the book four years ago, and I want to share with you a consequent experience I had relating to the book.

For those of you who haven’t read it, or if you have and need a refresher, Captivating stresses the value of a woman’s heart, the things that a woman needs and thus, the type of relationship she has with God.

I’m going to take you straight to pages 116-118, where Stasi writes about an experience she had:

At this point in the book, the authors are describing a woman’s desire to be romanced. Accordingly, our relationships with God often take that sort of position—God desires to show His love to those He loves, just as a woman would be romanced by her lover.

One day, Stasi’s husband John had experienced God’s personal, intimate love for him while he was on a beach. He had the privilege of watching the rare sight of a beautiful whale blowing water out of its blowhole, and to John, this was a special experience of God’s love for him personally.

After John had told Stasi about what he saw, Stasi asked God for the same thing. She said, “God, I want you to show me a whale, too.” She ended up walking the beach herself, but instead of seeing a whale, she saw a huge expanse of beach covered with starfish—she had never seen anything in nature like it before. She knew that was God’s personal gift to her.

The book goes on to explain that as God loves each of us so much, on a very personal level, we can open our hearts to “hear His whispers and receive His kisses.”

Well, what do you think I did after reading that section? At that time in my life, I desperately needed reassurance from God that He did in fact love me enough to take the time to give me my own gift, and I desperately needed to feel as important to God as these two well-known authors clearly were. I figured, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and if the authors are right, then I should be able to get my own gift from God. Perhaps this was a little selfish and testy of me, but given my state of mind at the time, I am not surprised that I asked God for my own gift.

I don’t remember how many days later, but shortly after reading that section of the book, on a dark, cold Saturday night, I spent my evening grocery shopping (probably the best way to spend a Saturday night, right? Please note my sarcasm here).

When I was driving home and pulled onto my street, my headlights caught some movement. At first, I thought it was a dog, but when I looked again, I realized this animal was way bigger than a dog—it was a buck—a full-grown male deer, complete with a huge set of antlers. I had never seen anything like it before.

I slowly followed it down my street. He was casually galloping along the side of the road until he got to an adjoining cul-de-sac, which he turned down. He didn’t really seem scared; I think he could have run much faster than he did. I kept following him until I watched him make his way up someone’s driveway and past the garage into the backyard. The buck’s antlers reached up to the roof of the garage he ran past.

To see something so majestic, so wonderful and so rare in the middle of a street, running into someone’s backyard was very, very awesome. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Yes, I do live across the street from a ravine; the houses across the street from me, and on that cul-de-sac, back onto a nice ravine where perhaps many deer live. I have not, however, ever seen a deer on my street (apart from this incident) in the five years I’ve lived here. Also, I have never seen a buck before in my life. 

When I have seen deer out in the wild, I’ve only ever seen a group of does (or at least, young deer without antlers). Even hunters who are specifically in a deer-riddled area, watching and waiting for that prize buck with majestic antlers adorning its head may wait for days and never see one, let alone hunt one down. This deer I saw was rare enough of a gem to me that it really impacted me, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was my gift from the One Who loves me so dearly. Now, whenever I see a deer out in the wild, I’m reminded of that fantastic buck and of God’s love for me on a very personal level. That gift was, as Stasi calls it, “an intimate gift from an intimate God.”

Stasi finishes that section with, “He has many for you as well.”

I would never, ever share this story about what God did for me if I wasn’t certain that He would do the same for you. Maybe He already has, many times.

Of course I know that God loves me. I would have believed that even if I had never encountered that buck. I believed it before, and I still believe it. God didn’t need to prove His love for me by providing that gift from nature any more than my friends or family would ever need to prove their love for me by giving me presents—I know love without physical gifts.

Even though we don't need gifts to know love, aren't gifts still fun to receive? Aren't gifts fun to give to the ones we love? Don't actions like the giving/receiving of gifts make relationships sweeter? God feels the same way!

What's more, I believe is that sometimes in life, our hearts may be fragile, our emotions may be unstable or our situations may have placed us in a precarious position. For whatever reason, we may just need to be shown, in our own personal, intimate way, just how much God loves us. We may just need something tangible, in our world, to give us that boost we need to grow strong again—to heal our hearts. Sometimes we need something to hold onto. Please be comforted that God knows what you need and He is willing to give.

If you’ve never done so, I encourage you open your own heart and see what kinds of ways that God can show His own intimate, personal love for you in a beautiful and impactful way. He knows when you will need them and why. As Stasi wrote in Captivating, He has many gifts especially crafted for you, ready and waiting to bestow on you, too. Just ask and be open to receiving them.

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