Don’t be deceived… Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father. James 1:16-17 NIV
As a child on Valentine’s Day, as the evening arrived and darkness crept in, I stopped playing and listened intently for a knock on the front door. Sometimes, it was so faint I could barely hear it above the thumping of my heart. Other times, the loud hammering made me jump violently. Then, I would charge to the door, along with my three brothers, and fling it open.
A small parcel wrapped in plain brown paper tied with string would be sitting on the doorstep. The ends of the string disappeared into the shadows.
As the four of us went to grab the package, it would jerk quickly away from us. It was a challenge to seize the jumping bundle before it skipped off into the night. However, with fumbling fingers we freed the parcel from the string determined to tug it from our arms.
I was excited to see my name scrawled on the wrapper. Before I had time to discover what was inside, another knock came on the door. Again, we ran to struggle with yet another fidgety package.
This unusual kind of Valentine’s Day gift giving carried on throughout the evening until each member of the family had received a present.
The custom, I discovered, is specific to where I grew up in Norfolk on the east coast of Britain. I decided to carry on this tradition with my three children in America. Somehow the magic never transferred. When Father Valentine came knocking on our door bearing gifts in the darkness, my sons and daughter refused to go to the door and hid behind my legs instead.
Sometimes we behave like my children, and miss out on the gifts God gives us.
We focus on and become frightened by the darkness—illness, tragedy and violence. Sometimes, we mistake them as God’s doing, or doubt God’s goodness, rather than attributing them to evil in the world. So when God knocks at our door during the gloom, wanting to express his love and deliver good gifts—a phone call from a friend, a hug from a child, or a warm home on a snow day—we don’t reach out to enjoy them.
If only my children had managed to put aside their fear and had captured the gifts delivered by Father Valentine, the night would have been memorable.
Are you focusing on the shadows instead of grasping the gifts God has placed in your life?