For some time now, I have been CRAZY about the word “lavish.” Over the moon, in love, eyes-light-up-when-I-hear-the-word kind of crazy. I think it appeals to the dramatic in me. No wonder my kids are both theater majors.
My friend Patti and I share this love of the word lavish and we try to work it in to conversation as often as possible. Because she has become a grandmother repeatedly over the last few years (seriously…it seems like she has a new grand baby once a week or so,) it is not hard to find ways to use it. We have decided lavish is the perfect way to describe the way grandmothers love their grand babies. Here is a photo of my grandmother who adored me and lavished me with love every time I spent time with her. She is in heaven now, but she’s been on my mind because her birthday was earlier this month. You can see how clearly delighted she is to be with me and her soon to be great grand baby in this photo. She is simply crazy about me, little Alex and my beautiful, lavishly blooming hydrangea bush in the background.
Apparently, this is also the way God feels about us. I love this familiar verse in 1 John 3:1-
See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
Recently, I found the word lavish again in scripture, in a place I had never seen it before. Reading scripture in different translations is ridiculously easy these days, thanks to online tools like Bible Gateway and I just happened upon these inspirational words in The Message translation of Ephesians Chapter 1:
3-6 How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Is it just me or does “celebration of lavish gift-giving” sound like a party?
God decides He wants a focus for His abundant, all-encompassing love, so He creates us. He decides we are His beloved and He will stop at nothing to bring us home, so He sends Jesus. He lavishes us with His extravagant love simply because He delights in us and wants to make us His own precious children.
But here is where the party comes in…
We get to give gifts too! Everybody is invited and everyone has a gift to give because the Father has already been so lavish in His gift-giving. He has abundantly poured out all that we need to take care of one another: individual talents, passions, experiences, time, resources, interests and a capacity to love. We each get a gift and then we give it away in a big circle of lavish generosity. An enormous white elephant gift exchange except all the gifts are perfect and desirable because they all originally came from God and He only gives good gifts.
This is really good news, friends! But here is the catch: it only works if we each gratefully acknowledge our gifts and then give them away! If we deny our giftedness, or decide we would rather have our sister’s gift, or selfishly cling to our Precious gift like Gollum in the dark caves, then the gift gets wasted. Our extravagantly generous, gift-giving Father expects us to share our gifts with our hurting, broken world. The magic, the healing is in the brave sharing.
So what is your gift? Are you a detail person, great at organizing? Do you sing, or paint or write? Do you have a passion for the poor, like Jesus does? Do you have an empty nest and some time on your hands? Do you have a home and the gift of hospitality? Are you a wonderful listener who has been through unimaginable despair and came out on the other side still able to experience joy? What is your unique story?
Would you like to share in the celebration of His lavish gift-giving?
We are all invited to the party!
Welcome #LiveFreeThursday link up friends! This week’s writing prompt is more than we could ask for. To read more wise words on this topic, go visit my friend Suzie and our writing sisters here.