“Don’t get me anything,” he’d warn. “I don’t want to see anything under the tree with my name on it.”
On Christmas morning when it was time to open the presents, Dad made every excuse not to open his. Finally, after we insisted, he’d reluctantly unwrap his gifts complaining all the way. “I don’t deserve this,” he’d say, holding up a new fishing reel, or shirt, or pair of cuff links. “Thanks, but I don’t deserve it.”
Dad’s reaction took all the fun out of giving. We disliked shopping for him, because we always assumed that whatever we chose wouldn’t be good enough. Even more, we were hurt by his reaction to our presents.
Now that I’m much older, I understand. Dad didn’t feel worthy. At any occasion when he received a gift, he did so with guilt, and he accepted what he got not with a sense of joy, but with shame.
I’ve learned that I have a similar relationship with Jesus Christ. In my prayer life, I have no trouble asking for things for family members, friends and even strangers, but when it comes to gifts for myself, I don’t feel deserving or worthy. I never boldly approach God’s throne of grace, as the Bible instructs in Hebrews 4:16. Instead, I shamble there, embarrassed and reluctant to ask God for what I want.
Recently, I thought about how the Lord must feel when He gives me the desires of my heart, and instead of being open to receive them with joy, I accept His blessings with a shamed and guilt-ridden spirit.
Jesus, I’m sorry. I resolve to change. With each coming day, like a child at Christmas, I’ll await your gifts with eager anticipation. And when they arrive, I’ll tear off the wrapping paper and delight in what you’ve given me. No more guilt. No more shame. I’ll accept your gifts earnestly with a joyful and grateful heart.