“Life is a gift. When you receive it as a gift you begin to give yourself as a gift”
– Erwin McManus.
For a while now I have been struggling to get out of bed in the morning. I could bore you with the details, but I won’t. Very simply, I had forgotten that my life is God’s gift to me and God’s gift to others. We all live very busy and stressed lives, and living is complicated and relationships are complex. Sometimes the complexity is just too much to face, and our problems and the problems of others become overwhelming. We get caught in the maelstrom and are overcome. And we forget whose and who we are.
Erwin McManus’ words reminded me that I had become too involved in myself, and that I needed to look beyond myself and my own need, and regain a sense of purpose and be reminded of my potential: “You ... need to be able to go to bed at night and know that based on who you are and who God has made you to be, you’ve contributed the greatest good that you can for the good of others. And that when you get up in the morning you can’t wait to get out of bed because there is this eager anticipation that your life can be a gift to the world.”
I am not a gift to the world, my life is. My life is God’s gift to me, and it is also God’s gift to others. It is not about me, it is about the gift God has made me to be. It is about the potential God has placed within me to make a tangible difference both to my own life and also to the lives of others. And as I turn off the morning alarm, and turn over to hide under the duvet from the world, I remember that my life is a gift. I begin to wonder how God will use this gift this day, what opportunities will arise, and what God will do. It is not long before I throw back the duvet and head for the shower.
The day is rarely perfect, often fractured and chaotic, crisis-filled and full of frustration. But it is different, because at vague moments I remember and seek again to give myself as a gift. In these moments the sun shines again, and I discover an energy within, God within. And strangely, the fracturing, the chaos, the crisis and the frustration also become God’s gift. They become God-given opportunities to interact and engage with life itself, with issues, with people, with God. There is peace to be found in the chaos and the struggle, and hope.
Yes, my life is a gift. So is yours. It is a gift given to be given away, not thoughtlessly but shared. And the strange part is that in sharing, in giving and in giving away, we find wholeness and renewal. Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 NRSV).
There is a need for us to reflect on whom or what is stealing our lives. What are real boundaries, and what are false ones? Who or what is defining us? Who or what is controlling us? Where is God in our journey?
The Church season of Lent, leading up to our Easter celebrations, is an opportunity to explore these questions; to reflect on how we are living the gift of life God has given us; to seek God’s guidance and leadership afresh. There are a number of resources offered to us during this season: a Diocesan booklet of daily meditations for personal use, or family discussion; a Lent course “Growing the Church”; weekly meditations on the cross; a healing Service on the first Sunday in Lent; our Holy Week and Good Friday programme; Baptism and Confirmation preparation classes.
Friends, what do you seek?
Quotations from Erwin McManus are taken from Master Leaders: Revealing conversations with 30 leadership greats by George Bana with Bill Dallas (2010).