Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lavish Gifts

For Christmas, my mother-in-law gave us a family gift. As in, the whole family - her sons, their wives, and all the grandchildren. The gift was a family outing to the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan, and we all took the trip this weekend. Oh, my, did we ever have a GREAT time!!!

The resort is all about families having fun together, and that is exactly what we did. From going down the water slides (really fast!) in innertubes or floating in the lazy river, to squirting each other with hoses or standing under the 1,000 gallon bucket that dumped water every five minutes, we had a great time together.
Besides the indoor water park, there was one other attraction about which my kids were particularly interested. The arcade. (If I am to be perfectly honest, I must admit I was pretty happy when I found out the arcade included a "Dance Dance Revolution," a.k.a. DDR.) Like most arcades my kids enjoy, this was one whose games gave out tickets which were redeemable in the end for "prizes."
Right away my kids were talking about which games they wanted to play and what prizes they hoped to earn, as we scoped out the arcade for the first time. My initial thought was, "How can I divert their attention from this room? Surely, we don't need to waste our time and money here!" I am usually so stingy when it comes to arcade games. When I do take the kids somewhere that has an arcade, it is common for me to say something like, "I'm going to give you one dollar for tokens, and that's it." But something weird happened in me at the Great Wolf Lodge arcade.
As I contemplated being there for an entire weekend, and considered the fact we were there via a gift, I got the idea that maybe, just maybe, I could be a little generous with the kids. I went over to the machine used to buy tokens and read the sign. It said, if you bought $20 worth of tokens you would receive 12 bonus tokens. Seemed like a good deal to me. But did I really want to spend that much money? For arcade games and tickets and (in my opinion) worthless prizes? That is so not my character! However, after I thought about it a little more and discussed the idea with my husband, I decided I was going to put that $20 bill in the machine and get those 92 tokens.
So when Joshua asked if we could go to the arcade I said, "Yes. Let's go," and the two of us were on our way. When we got there and went to get our tokens, Joshua looked surprised as I put the $20 bill into the machine. The look on his face at that moment was cute, but it was nothing compared to his expression as he watched the machine produce 92 tokens. His eyes were like saucers as he kept looking from me to the tokens, with a very large grin on his face. He was a combination of joy and excitement, with a dash of disbelief. To me, his response was worth every penny I had just spent.
What made it sweeter still was listening to him recount the event to Elizabeth and Matthew later that night. The kids were all in bed and Joshua told them, "Mom put in a $20 bill and tokens just kept coming out. And we get to use them all!" (Yeah, except the 12 bonus tokens. Those were all mine for DDR!) The joy and excitement in his voice filled my heart with delight.

As I further considered Joshua's response to my "lavish" gift and the delight his response brought to my heart, my thoughts turned to our God and how He might view our responses to His lavish gifts. When we look at a glorious sunrise or sunset (or the Northern Lights - Have you ever seen those?) and our hearts flow with praise for God's handiwork and the beauty of His creation, do you think He smiles and says, I made that just for you to see?
Or when we are looking at one of our children, marveling over the fact that little person was once just a little tiny cell, stuck in awe at the thought God created them - let alone saw fit to make us their mother - and with tears streaming down our cheek we thank God for that child's precious life, do you think His heart fills with delight as He says, I did this because I love you so much?
What about the times when things all seem to be going "your way"? You've been stressed about a certain situation but it has all worked out. The kids are unusually well-behaved. Your friend called just to let you know she's been praying for you. Your husband said you deserve a night out and he's made plans to take the kids on an outing without you. Then you, giddy with joy, ask God, "Why are you so good to me???" And He, also with joy, replies, It brings Me joy to see you joyful.

The Bible says God desires to lavish His love on us (1 John 3:1), every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17), and He will never stop doing good to us (Jeremiah 32:40). Certainly we all have difficult things in our lives with which we must contend - and if you've been with me for long you know I believe those hard times are ultimately good because God is good and uses everything in our lives according to His good purposes.
But as I watched Joshua this weekend, filled with joy over my lavish gift, I was reminded and thankful that God delights in doing good to us. How wonderful is that? The Creator of the universe - in the midst of holding the world together in perfect balance - wants to delight your heart!


Ann Kroeker said...

Now I'd be more willing to don a swimsuit in the pasty-white-skin-days of winter before I'd pile on the layers and freeze myself while sledding. Sounds like a wonderful weekend, a great gift.

The kids got to go this weekend. Their papa took them.

I stayed home. Again. I'm so joyless. :)

I love this story about lavish gifts. Interestingly, I *just* read the story about the woman coming in and anointing Jesus with the perfume...a lavish gift indeed. Thanks for the reminder.

Ann Kroeker said...

I meant that the kids got to go sledding this weekend. You probably figured that out.

Irritable Mother said...

Truthfully, Ann, although the air in the water park was warmer than the air outside, I did get chilly at times - pasty-white-skin goose bumps! Occassional trips to the hot tub were a welcomed relief.

Yea for Dad, giving the kids a sledding *fix*!

momteacherfriend said...

Great stuff.
Pastor Brad spoke on generosity vs selfish responses on Sunday. How awesome that you were given a moment of generosity to your kids. So how was dance revolution?

Irritable Mother said...

Yes, when Pastor Brad asked for examples of how we "Christians" can be selfish I thought, "Oh! I could fill the hour telling you about the ways I struggle with selfishness!" I thought it was a great sermon.
DDR was fun, and also made me feel quite un-coordinated at times. Did you know they have one for the children's ministry at church? I want to get one!