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Unexpected Gifts…

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During my years in seminary, I was offered an opportunity to live in Canada and serve two churches in the Canadian District, Edmonton Moravian and New Sarepta Moravian Churches. Our first child was born in Edmonton and the year spent in ministry influenced much of my ministry over the years. My mentor, Bishop Doug Kleintop was a helpful teacher and a good friend to our family. Camp life at Van Es, shared experiences, and the beauty of Alberta, Canada are still etched in my mind.

Over the years I have received additional gifts along the way: good friends in ministry, opportunities to be in mission, a loving family, encounters with notable people and scholars, clinical experiences in hospitals, varied camping stories (some silly and some sublime), and watching our family grow with four grandchildren. All of these gifts have been logged on a ledger in my heart and spirit. Most came as a reflection of God’s grace.

In terms of what I expected in life and what I have received, I can only say that the latter far outweighs the former. I grew up in a time when most of my peers either went off to school or worked locally at the main corporations in the Triad area of North Carolina. I really never expected to go to college but God intervened and through the process of college and graduate school my life changed all for the better. Needless to say, God’s path was not always easy but it was exciting and inspirational.

The other week I received an official letter from the Canadian Government. I had applied for pension benefits from Canada for the year that I worked in Alberta. For most of a year, I called and wrote letters and appeals to see if I could receive a small but helpful pension based on my earnings. The last phone call basically dashed any hopes of a monthly pension. I was in Canada but did not have any legal standing – so no pension… fine.

When I opened the letter I imagined it was an official proclamation from the pension program in both French and English saying that I had been denied and not to pursue any further actions. Much to my surprise, the letter was just the exact opposite of what I had imagined. Upon further review, my pension was approved and I should expect a lump sum payment in arrears for 2020 and a monthly pension. It was certainly an unexpected gift.

What gifts have you received in your life, my friend traveler? How has God been the unexpected giver in the days, months, and years of life? In what ways have you been one to give to others not out of necessity but out of generosity? Does the ledger of your heart have enough space to put all of those gifts in a neat row – perhaps not? Mine did not.

May I suggest that the majority of the gifts we receive have little to do with our ability to “be the best, the most deserving, or top of our class.” Gifts both expected or unexpected are loving reminders of our Creator’s providence. And when you receive an unexpected gift remember to be polite and say, “thank you.” God does love a cheerful giver and receiver as well.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19

About the Author  

Photo courtesy of Mike Riess.

The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grandkids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.

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