Are You Missing the Gift That’s Right in Front of You?

January 23, 2024

Joanna Teigen

If we could invite you to share a meal with our family, you’d notice right away that we’ve got a busy house. You’d scoot your way around cars in the driveway to get to the front door. Our doodles would bark a loud welcome. You might hear the shower running upstairs, our grandbaby’s laughter, or our daughter working out to a YouTube video downstairs. And, you’d meet our middle schooler as he practices yo-yo tricks or shows off his latest Lego creation.

As you can imagine with a busy household, we pretty much live at the grocery store. The fridge is the hub of the kitchen (besides the coffee pot, of course) and the basement holds storage and a chest freezer so we can stock up on essentials. One thing is for sure—nobody is going hungry with the canned goods, frozen veggies, and side of beef we’ve got stashed away.

Nobody, that is, except the middle schooler I mentioned. Our son has some obstacles to a healthy appetite and consuming enough food to keep pace with his rapid growth. He’s surrounded by food, but it can be tough to get it from the refrigerator into his stomach where it can do him good. (But don’t worry—we’ve got great support and he’s going to be OK!)

Our son isn’t the only one who’s surrounded by good things but struggles to utilize them. Rob and I have shelves and shelves of books in our house, but we’ll never have the time to read each one. The cupboard is spilling over with vitamins, but I still forget to take my vitamin D. My cherished piano sits in the living room, but rarely do I slow down to enjoy music at the keyboard.

What about you? 

  • Maybe you’ve racked up thousands of frequent-flyer miles, but never schedule that romantic getaway you’ve dreamed of.
  • You know your best friend will always have your back, but rarely do you put a coffee date on the calendar to connect in each other’s lives.
  • Maybe you invested in a sewing machine or table saw, but your project is gathering dust in the corner. 

If so, you’re not alone. It’s oh-so-human to ignore the gifts right in front of us that would build us up and satisfy our souls.

Proximity is Not Enough

We see a crowd of people in Luke chapter 8 in the Bible who aren’t too different from folks like us today. These people got word of Jesus’ unprecedented healings and teaching, so they mobbed around Him as soon as He arrived in town. Jesus gave up any hope of personal space as the crowd closed in, eager to see what miracle He might perform next. The people pressed in as closely as they could so they wouldn’t miss a thing.

Yet one woman in the crowd wasn’t like the others. She hadn’t come to see a show. She wasn’t carried away with excitement. The woman certainly wasn’t trying to interrupt Jesus’ plans or grab His attention for herself. No, this woman was broken. Exhausted. Destitute. Dying. She drew close to Jesus as her only hope.

The woman in Luke 8 had suffered with sickness that was draining her life away. To make things worse, she’d been exploited by doctors and “healers” who used up her money and left her worse off than when she started. All she had left was a glimmer of faith in Jesus’ loving power.

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” – Luke 8:48

In this story the woman’s faith did not disappoint. She told herself, if I can just touch Jesus’ robe, I’ll be made well. She walked out her front door, joined the crowd around Jesus, and reached for the edge of His robe with her fingertips. And in one brief moment of contact, she was completely cured!

While we celebrate the miraculous healing of this precious woman, we have to consider the other men and women jostling to get close to Jesus at the same time. Surely they, too, brushed against Jesus’ clothing. They also had expectancy that Jesus might do something amazing. They each crowded around Him with their own pains and griefs and unmet needs. So why didn’t Jesus’ power heal everybody else?

The answer is that proximity to God is not enough. What set the woman apart was her humility. Her full dependence on Jesus’ mercy. Her faith. She recognized—and reached for—the life-changing gift of God’s Son who was standing right in front of her.

Does that remind you of 2 Timothy 3:5 that describes how dangerously easy it is to have a “form of godliness” but deny its power? The woman’s utter faith in Jesus opened the door to salvation. She left Him with His words ringing in her ears: “Go in peace.” (v. 48) Her body would ultimately age and die, but her soul was made well for eternity. 

Today let’s take away a reminder that proximity to God is not the same as pursuit of God.

Proximity to God is not the same as pursuit of God.

We can go through the motions of religion without truly trusting, depending, or crying out for His mercy. We can be so caught up in wanting our circumstances to change, we forget it’s our hearts that need mending the most. We find ourselves pursuing God’s gifts instead of Him, the Giver.

What is draining the life out of you today? What grieves your heart? What issue is wearing away your safety, your relationships, and your hope for tomorrow? How have you searched for solutions, only to be disappointed? Run to the One who has the power to carry you through. Fall at His feet. Receive His peace and let His love wrap around you. If we are in Jesus, all will be well.

 

A Prayer for Today

Lord,

 

I know how to keep up appearances as a good Christian. A good spouse and parent. A good worker and neighbor. But inside, I’m falling apart. I’m exhausted from trying to mend what’s broken in my life. I know now that no one can help but you.

 

Forgive me for keeping you at arm’s length as I tried to make it on my own. Have mercy on me in this pain. Overcome my doubts. Work powerfully as my rescuer, my healer, and my hope. Sustain my trust that joy is on the way. Let me know your love like never before.

 

Amen.

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