Recently on a visit a friend gave me an unexpected gift. Not only was the gift itself a surprise, but its content was too. It was a changing bag. Although I’ve been a parent for three years now I have never, believe it or not, owned a changing bag.
As two people in ministry, we live on a tight budget. I don’t feel that we’ve ever been short of anything, it’s just that we don’t spend more on any one thing than we really need to. And when, early on, I discovered that calling it a changing bag meant a markup of at least £20, I decided that a big slouchy bag would do just fine. Nevertheless it surprised me how tickled I was to find myself the proud owner of a brand new, honest-to-goodness changing bag- complete with insulated bottle pocket and matching mat. And for no particular reason; my friend just wanted to do something nice. I was truly touched.
A few weeks ago on a different visit we said our farewell to Scotland- a place we’ve spent many happy times. On the drive home we were treated to a stunning display of nature; there were literally rainbows everywhere we looked. One of them, a perfect arc, had two layers of the most clear, defined colors we’d ever seen. It was breathtaking. It stayed with us for miles.
I think that Christians feel a certain affinity for rainbows. Of course we know that they are just refracted light, caused by particular weather conditions. But go on admit it- they bring a tantalizing air of mystery all their own. We remember the story of Noah and we start to wonder… What was it like? Did God really send the rainbow as a promise for all, or was that just a one off? Then we might start to speculate: is it possible that God might have a message just for me?
It struck me as I was mulling over the usual questions that I never just assume that the good things apply to me personally. When it comes to rainbows, I remind myself of the science and move on. But on that particular day, the rainbows felt personal. And a new question came to mind: is it possible that God has something good ahead for us, just because He likes to give gifts?
I have no science to back that one up- and not a lot of theology either. Just a hunch. Of course, it doesn’t take long to look around and see the good things He’s already given. Two beautiful daughters when once we thought we might never have any… a husband and friends who love me despite the stupid things I say and do… a place to call home… peace in the simple knowledge that I’m valued and loved by God… do you see the rainbows? They’re everywhere.
Has God ever given you a gift that surprised you? Do tell!