In 1992, Gary Chapman wrote, The Five Love Languages. Stemming from his counseling practice, he identified five ways people express love to one another. They are: 1) words of affirmation, 2) acts of service, 3) giving/receiving gifts, 4) quality time, and 5) physical touch. Generally, but not always, people tend to express love the same way they prefer to receive it, and most of us probably relate to more than one of these types of validations. For me, I like to give gifts, but not just any gift – I want to find the perfect gift, card, or memento that specifically pertains to the receiver. The best part of gift-giving is the look of total surprise on the recipient’s face.
As we get older, I think the opportunity to be surprised diminishes. Most people tend to be obsessive planners. There are very few occasions when those plans go unfulfilled, because failure is not an option, and we also have a Plan B and even a Plan C in our back pocket. We are fulfilled when are plans go as prescribed. Of course, there is typically a great deal of stress involved in ensuring that every detail is perfect, but that’s a topic for another memo.
God typically doesn’t follow our plans, however. He, I think, expresses His love through gift-giving as well. He, too, likes to find the perfect gesture/moment, and He delights in our look of total surprise as we receive the unexpected. The problem is that we don’t give Him many opportunities to WOW us. In our over-planned lives, we are not usually open to the spontaneous – the unplanned – and we don’t look for it. But boy, when it happens, it knocks us off our feet. I’m sure every one of us can look back in time and recall those moments when God closed one door but opened another – a better one.
Maybe our current situation is God’s way of telling us to stop over-planning. Some preparation, of course, is necessary, but always, always be open to the unknown, and be willing to learn from it. In Jeremiah, He said, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you…plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (29:11).
Wonder and awe is waiting for each of us, but in His time, not ours.
As a footnote, please pray for the McCabe family (James is in Grade 5 and Abigail graduated last year), who experienced a serious fire on the second story of their home yesterday. No one was injured, but their lives have most certainly been turned upside down. We know God will give them the strength to endure this hardship, and we know He will bless them in due time.