by Kari Diane Pike
Every time I am given an answer to a prayer, I feel like a child on Christmas morning; full of joy and anticipation. Some of the gifts I open are direct fulfillment of wishes expressed. Yet I frequently find myself opening unexpected, and mysterious, yet marvelous gifts; gifts that I had no idea I needed or even wanted. I remember a particular gift I received as a young bride. A sister in the ward gave me a cookbook…one of those plain and simple, handmade, ward family cookbooks put together by her Relief Society. It wasn’t until years later that I truly came to appreciate the value of that gift. As my family grew, I discovered many helpful hints from experienced moms among its pages. Over the years, those pages have become tattered and stained, and the cover has fallen apart, but I love that book more than ever. The sacrifice of time to put the book together saved me hours of work and distress. When I read the names by the hints and recipes, I remember loving friends and teachers. That simple cookbook became a gift that keeps on giving.
How often do I set aside gifts sent to me by the Father, just because they seem too plain and simple? How many times do I let His gifts lie unrecognized?
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a funk. I felt cranky. My body ached. I couldn’t sleep and I just wanted to crawl under my quilt with a bag of M&M’s. I chose instead to follow through with my resolution to “just be diligent and keep moving forward.” I stepped into the shower, hoping to find relief for both my body and mind. As I let the hot water soothe my aching muscles, I asked Heavenly Father for help. An impression that I had over committed myself immediately came to my mind. I "tried on" different decisions concerning how and where I should spend my time and energy. The moment I came to the right choice, my body relaxed and the heavy burden I felt was lifted. I had no idea why that choice was right and at first I started to panic. Was I being prepared because something horrible was about to happen? Then a sweet reassurance swept over me. I didn’t need to be afraid. Fear doesn’t come from the Lord. Peace does. I was being prepared by the Lord for whatever was to come. Everything was going to be okay. What a gift! I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen.
Throughout the following week I discovered gift after gift as I followed through with my choices. Opportunities to serve and grow abounded; opportunities I would have missed had I ignored the gift in the shower. A dear friend once told me, "Challenges guard blessings," but I like to think of it this way: “Blessings come wrapped in challenges.” And even though we often find it difficult to break those strings and ribbons and tear through the wrapping, it is a joy when we finally recognize the gift.
I am humbled knowing that our Heavenly Father, who rules galaxies unnumbered, not only knows who we are, but loves and cares for us enough to send the gift of his only begotten Son so that some day we can partake of the greatest gift of all…eternal life.