"If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:11-13
These verses keep worming into my mind. I’ve always skimmed them because it’s quite obvious to me that a good God doesn’t give His children stones to eat. Plus, I’m a parent. I understand wanting to give my kids good gifts. Darla recently had her 8th birthday and I was nearly as giddy as she was. Watching her be blessed and humbly thankful was a bright spot in my January.
But there was more to the verses hanging over my head. The first time I brushed by it. The second I came across in a book and allowed myself to ask, “Do I thank God for everything, everything, understanding it as daily bread and not stones?” Mm… actually, I often think what God gives me for daily bread tastes similar to stones.
I’m pretty sure I pushed those uncomfortable thoughts to the back of my mind. They resurfaced last month when my cousin was praying over me. He asked God to bless me with gifts (I had in my head what I’d prefer those to look like). Then he talked to the Lord about gifts that we don’t understand, gifts we have a hard time receiving as gifts… and he thanked God for those gifts in my life, on behalf of me. Wait- those scorpions were actually eggs? Oh.
It reminded me of a conversation I had nearly three years ago with the same cousin. I was sharing heartache and exhaustion with him. With incredible compassion he said, “Shilo, have you thanked God for this?”
“For heartache? For disillusionment and pain?” My answer was to grit my teeth and stare with “how-dare-you” eyes.
He explained that although heartache is the result of a sinful world, God did allow it. He did preserve me. He also promises that He will use it for eternal purposes and not waste pain. Perhaps God can turn what resembles rocks in my churning stomach into something that nourishes me? Something like bread? Oh.
I nodded my understanding and may have said something along the lines of, “I’ll thank God as soon as I can do it without throwing up.”
I didn’t thank Him that day. But the Holy Spirit didn’t leave my heart where it was… and one day I found I could… without throwing up.
I’ve managed to do this with some big things- believe that God can use them for daily bread. Even when I’m bent on making serpents of my life, as soon as I turn back to Him open handed, I find fish instead.
He’s been urging me to thank and acknowledge His gifts in some daily things. It’s changing me.
Some things are easy to see as God’s gifts and nourishment. Praise for them flows easily. Each morning as my kids bound to the bus heading to the tiny school they attend, I stand with my coffee thanking God for the miracles that occurred to bring them to that school this year.
Some feel depleting instead of nourishing and saying “thanks” feels awkward. Like the day I found myself saying, “Thank you, Lord for that argument with my husband”, and in the next breath, “And sorry Lord, for sounding sarcastic and bitter when I just thanked you.”
It wasn’t until days later that I realized our argument had surfaced things that needed to be dealt with instead of glossed over, and in some miraculous moment I found myself being thankful for real. Remarkable!
A couple weeks ago I woke after being up with sick kids most of the night. The flu made dominoes out of us, knocking us down one by one and leaving a mess of saltines, 7up, and laundry. I stumbled to my coffee pot and realized with great disappointment that I couldn’t stomach coffee. I reluctantly opted for tea and took it to the living room where Everett curled up on me, shaky with fever and coughing. I had already spent four days with a husband down and a two year old puking. Now Everett and Darla were crying for tylenol and no end was in sight.
I have four small children and puke still terrifies me. Compassion is not my strong trait. Feeling unproductive, inactive, and having a whiny household makes me cringe. I was trying not to count how many days it had been since I had left the house.
Through bleary eyes I began praying over Everett’s hot little body on mine, “Lord, this is not what I thought today would be. Help me accept whatever it is as what you’re doing and what I need.”
It was quiet and dark in the living room. I was watching the steam rise off my tea as the sun was rising behind snow covered mountains through my picture windows.
Everything was covered in a hauntingly thick frost (I call these mornings Narnia Winters) but the sky was lighting up bright pink. It grew- the beauty and complete stillness of the moment as light swept over Everett and me and with it, deep peace.
My expectations and plans for the day lifted and with new eyes I saw the gift that it was to hold my kids, read stories, and lower expectations for the day. By some mystery of the Holy Spirit I realized it wasn’t just words- this thanking for what felt like stones moments before- it had somehow seeped into my soul. It changed my day, it changed my attitude, it changed how clearly I could hear God’s voice (but no, it didn’t change how I feel about puke).
Naturally, I was also incredibly thankful after six days of lockdown when my daily bread involved a trip to the grocery store for tangible bread… and more 7up just in case… and coffee because it goes really good with daily bread.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...