An Unexpected Gift
On November 8th my husband, Gary, and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. We felt this was quite a feat, and worthy of celebrating so we decided to take a short vacation. This past week we spent three days in hilly southern Ohio at Salt Fork’s rustic lodge. We were surrounded by cozy fireplaces, beautiful fall scenery, surprise visits from white tailed deer, lots of tasty food, and plenty of time together with NO CHILDREN!! We really did enjoy our time alone, and even decided we must be more intentional about taking time away together.
Like many couples who are celebrating marital milestones, we planned on exchanging gifts. However, we did not discuss when we would exchange them. Gary, the eager gift giver, decided to give me my gift early. He presented me with a stunning necklace inset with three diamonds, one for each child. I was truly blessed by this, but caught off guard because I had not yet purchased his gift. I was planning to give him his closer to our actual anniversary date, so instead of being able to surprise him, I had to receive my gift knowing I had nothing to give him in return. He, ever gracious, seemed happy just to enjoy giving a gift to me, and I eventually found a place of peace with not having a gift for him; that is until we returned home.
When we entered our home, I walked into the house and was greeted by three teenagers with some odd looks on their faces. They were smiling, and seemed to be all in one piece, yet something was up. I looked around and was stunned by what I saw next. There in a basket on the floor was a teeny, fawn colored, eight week old pug puppy. He was staring up at me wiggling, jiggling, and whimpering. He was another gift for me. I was speechless. I have wanted one for so long, and would have never bought one for myself, yet my husband and children had amazingly plotted and planned to surprise me with this precious little guy for our anniversary. How they kept it a secret, I will never know.
Our anniversary week, and all of the gifts Gary gave me, and the fact that I had nothing for him, has me thinking about another celebration. This year, as Christians, we are remembering the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Certainly, Martin Luther had no idea of what he was getting into when he, during a horrendous thunderstorm, committed himself to becoming a monk. He eventually was surprised and enlightened by the gift of God’s grace when he read Romans 1:17 “For in it (The Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’”. He was set free when he read Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” Luther realized that all of his works were useless and that he brought nothing to God. Just as I had no gift for Gary, Luther had nothing to give God. He found salvation, security, and acceptance in the shed blood of Jesus. It was a free gift! All of his striving, and working for righteousness availed him nothing. He realized, and I think with great relief, that it was okay that he had nothing to bring, because God, through Jesus, had supplied everything Luther could ever need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Now that is anniversary present we can all enjoy.