There are many parts of life that are easy to enjoy. They have some kind of reward built into them.
Eating is generally its own reward. Hunger is satisfied. Taste buds are pleasurably engaged. Meal conversations take place. And even the process of making the meal can be artful and enjoyable.
But we don’t always approach it that way. Buying food is expensive. Preparing it can be a chore. Eating a meal can be lonely or it can submit me to conversations I’d rather not be a part of. I may not enjoy the food. In fact, I may have a sense that all I’m doing is keeping the machine running.
These are two drastically different approaches and experiences of exactly the same thing. Yes, the circumstances may be different, but the main difference is intentionality.
Am I treating this experience as a gift or as a chore?
My answer to that question determines everything about the experience. It determines my life.
When my children were babies, was it a gift to be woken by their crying in the middle of the night? Was it a gift to change their messy diapers?
Now, is it a gift to drive them to their soccer, volleyball, and piano practices? To school in the morning?
Is it a gift to go next door to help my Dad dress my Mom and move her on to and off of her commode each day?
Is it a gift to mow the lawn? Take out the trash? Wash the dishes? Fill the car and change the oil? Clean the kitty litter? Vacuum the living room?
Is it a gift to read the Scriptures? To gather for worship? To prepare a sermon or listen to one? To meet with a community group to share life? To pray? To get up early to cook breakfast at a homeless shelter? To meet with a couple other guys over beers to consider the health of our souls?
Any one of these or all of these can be experienced as a chore, as a “got to” requirement that sucks life from me. Or they can be experienced as a gift, as an opportunity to give my life away while receiving it.
The question is: Do I believe there is a good Giver? And will I receive this next experience as a gift, even if it requires more from me than I think I have available?