Are You Sure You Are Ready to Experience the Gift?

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you could hardly stand it?  Our family has experienced that in a pretty big way over the last few months.  Our daughter Chandler has been taking horseback riding lessons off and on for the last couple of years. From just about the time she started talking, she has said she wanted a horse.  Every birthday and every Christmas her desire for a horse grew more and more. As each holiday came and went, her disappointment became more obvious as well.  As children, when you beg and plead with your parents for what you think you must have or even deserve and then you don’t get it, it’s frustrating. And, in many cases, it even borders on cruel punishment. At least that is the phrase I heard on more than one occasion over the last year or so.  

One of the things we have talked about with our kids is the idea of maturity points—you  must exhibit certain behaviors, attitudes and actions that exhibit the qualities of someone who is ready to take the next steps in life.  The idea of owning a horse to Chandler at the age of 8 meant you get to ride and play with it when you want to and that was about it.  Over the last year Kristen and I have watched this cute childhood dream slowly begin to turn into a true passion in life.  We have watched as Chandler began volunteering to go up to the stables where she takes lessons and helping with the mucking of the stalls, washing the horses and helping change out water and hay. There wasn’t anything she was not willing to do that was asked of her.  Not because she was trying to earn a horse, there was no guarantee of a horse, but because she was growing up and realizing what it takes to be ready to receive the gift. 

You see, the plan all along was for Kristen and I to one day give Chandler what she has always wanted and asked for, but it was not until she had gone through the process of being ready for what that meant and all that having that gift implied.  After 400 plus years in slavery, year after year and generation after generation, begging God to help them and give them their freedom, you can’t blame the Israelites for believing that it seemed like cruel punishment because they were not being given what they felt like they deserved.  God knew all along that He was going to set His people free. The plan was clear to Him, but the Israelite people were not yet ready to receive the gift.

To say Chandler loves horses and riding horses would be an enormous understatement.  This past Saturday Chandler received Tonto (a 4 legged, 1,000 pound, paint horse) for her 10th birthday.  Words cannot express the unbelievable joy a parent feels to watch as their children receive a gift. And not just any gift, but something that they had so desperately wanted.  It truly is something special and you know it brought great joy to God to watch His children experience something that they had wanted so desperately and yet had never known—freedom.  To watch His children sing, celebrate and worship Him as they receive the great gift that He had given them.

The story did not end there for the Israelite people and the story does not end there for Chandler.  Wanting a gift and truly being prepared to receive a gift are two different things.  The gift of freedom was just a glimpse (a foreshadowing of what was to come) of the greatest gift the world would ever know.