Or, Do Not Touch the Mugs
By: Sarah Cates
I am not a terribly sentimental person. I cleaned out all of my kids' baby clothes without blinking an eye. My wedding dress is still hanging in my closet at my parents' house (much to their dismay) waiting for me to clean it and then sell it or donate it. For the most part, things simply don't hold much emotional sway over me.
Except my mugs. Beware the mugs.
If you know me at all, you know that I love coffee. What you may not know is that I also have a mug collection to rival the collection of teacups in Buckingham Palace. And there are a few mugs in that collection that are strictly in a "no touchy" category. Four to be exact. Even Chris isn’t allowed to use them without getting serious death stares. Two I bought myself – one on a perfect fall weekend almost 10 years ago when I got my tattoo; another that I bought on a cold, wintry day at a Christmas market in Bath, England. The other two were gifts from my best friend Holly and look somewhat ordinary. One is a Starbucks mug from London that has the city skyline wrapped around it, the second is a handmade looking white one with blue stars that says “Star Baker”. The significance of these isn’t that I bought them somewhere special or that they remind me of a trip or a special day. Instead, they remind me of a special person. Someone who knows me well enough to pick out a perfect mug, one that has the right shape and feel and relates to a place or a thing that I love. These gifts remind me that I am known to Holly, that she thought of me when I wasn’t present, that I’m valuable enough to her for her to spend her money on me just because she loves me.
Is this not a tiny fragment of the picture of God’s love for us? He, too, knows us – better than we know ourselves. He, too, is constantly thinking of us. He, too, spent of Himself to give us good and perfect gifts just because He loves us. And yet… I can grumble at His gifts. This house that I have to work to clean and tidy, only to have it be a mess 90% of the time? On a good day, I accept it. On an ordinary day, I think it is just a bother. My three precious kids – even when the way that they are wired seems to be fundamentally designed to annoy the snot out of me? HA. How often I forget to treasure them. And yet… these are gifts, chosen with knowledge of my needs, wants, desires. Chosen with great love, with great care, given to me at great expense – for all gifts are only accessible because of the death of Jesus who raised me to the status of daughter.
So perhaps the issue isn’t the gifts. After all, they are of the same kind as those mugs I love so much. Chosen the same way, gifted the same way. Perhaps the issue is my perception of the giver. Do I remind myself daily of His character, of His love, of His unfailing faithfulness and dedication to drawing me nearer to Him? Do I take my eyes off of my circumstances and lay them on Him – on Christ my Savior, Christ my Redeemer, God my Father, God my Pursuer?
Paul speaks of learning to be content in all circumstances. Maybe it wasn’t the circumstances he grew to love. It was his God. The more I love God, the more I truly see Him in all things, how can I help but let my contentment with who He is radiate into all the things He chooses to give me? Even the ones I would never have chosen myself.
“To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured out by One who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His apportionment…” – Elisabeth Elliot