By Kari Diane Pike
What do you give the person who seems to have everything? My father recently celebrated his 76th birthday. I gave him his favorite Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory dark chocolate covered raspberry and orange sticks, and a couple of loaves of homemade honey-wheat bread to go with the strawberry freezer jam that my sister-in-law made for him. Unfortunately, my timing was poor. Dad was scheduled to have surgery the next day and I arrived with my gift after the time he was allowed to eat anything. But Dad demanded his birthday hug and made a big deal out of the wonderful treats he had to look forward to after his surgery and recovery. He graciously accepted my gift, recognizing the love and gratitude my heart wrapped around it.
I remember one Christmas when a gift was not so easily recognized. I drew my brother-in-law’s name and I stewed for weeks about finding “the perfect gift.” The days counted down. Finally, knowing how much David enjoyed reading, I resorted to a book store gift certificate. David has a great sense of humor. I wanted his gift to be fun so I also purchased a large box of Cracker Jacks. I carefully peeled the wrapper open so it wouldn’t tear and slipped the gift certificate into the box through a small slit. After I glued the wrapper back into place, you couldn’t tell the box had been opened. When David opened the gift, all he saw was a box of Cracker Jacks. His first reaction was to just throw the box away, but he tossed the box to his kids, thinking they would enjoy the sweet treat. It took several hours to convince him to open the box and discover the real gift.
A couple of weeks ago, I experienced a personal lesson about recognizing gifts. About 5:30am on a Monday morning, I found myself muttering and murmuring as I ironed a white shirt for my husband. I find ironing a tedious task and ironing at 5:30 in the morning just seemed wrong. Then the still small voice whispered in my heart,
“Aren’t you glad you have a husband who is not only able and willing, but worthy to teach Seminary this morning? This is a gift!”
Then it dawned on me. The task was there because my husband existed, because others existed, because I existed! Each task is a gift! (Then I recalled hearing a quote at the ANWA conference that a gift is something we are given to share with others. I couldn’t wait to share those gifts with my children!) As I performed each task, asking for abilities to equal the task, I found a new sense of joy and gratitude.
I love the Primary song, “I Will Follow God’s Plan” by Vanja Y. Watkins.
“My life is a gift; my life has a plan.
My life has a purpose; in heav’n it began.
My choice was to come to this lovely home on earth
And seek for God’s light to direct me from birth.
I will follow God’s plan for me,
holding fast to his word and his love.
I will work, and I will pray;
I will always walk in his way.
Then I will be happy on earth
and in my home above.”
Each life, each woman, is a gift. Different women represent different gifts, times of life, and circumstances. Just as women come in different shapes, sizes and colors, gifts can come in gaily wrapped packages, plain brown paper, or found behind personal challenges. We are given the ability to choose whether or not we will accept, open, and use our gifts. Sometimes we can’t wait to open our gifts. Frequently, we want to peek first and find out what the gift is before we open it. There are times we set the gift aside, thinking someday we’ll use it. Once in awhile we receive a gift that makes us uncomfortable or embarrassed and we hide it in the closet or garage, or like David, want to throw it away.
In John 4, Jesus told the woman at the well, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith thee, Give me drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” What is the gift of God? Romans 6:23 teaches us: “…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Do we recognize the true gift of the Atonement? We are free to choose whether or not to accept this ultimate gift, but it is there for everyone. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:
“All of you know that God is no respecter of persons; that he deals with every individual solely on the basis of his personal righteousness; and that he has given a blanket promise in revelations that spiritual gifts will flow to the faithful, even to the point, the promise so stipulates, that every faithful person will see the face of God.” (Promise Made to the Fathers)
Doctrine and Covenants 6:10, 13: “Behold, thou hast a gift, and blessed are thou because of thy gift; Remember it is sacred and cometh from above-
If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.”
What gifts are you going to open today?