God’s Unexpected Gifts

The Preacher and I spoke at one of our former churches a while back. The platform seemed lower and wider, but the church had changed little in two decades.

 It took a long time to get to my seat—too many friends lined the aisles. And I would have missed Lisa altogether if she hadn’t spoken. Her serene face, now etched and weathered, raised as I passed. “Do you remember me?”

 I’d know that Scandinavian accent anywhere. For two years, Lisa had been my “secret sister”.

 She’d drawn my name one year, I’d drawn hers the next. I remember well her anonymous monthly notes. Her small “special day” gifts were chosen with obvious love and care. One especially.  

 On the day I opened Lisa’s birthday gift to me, I recall wondering what woman could have given it. Staunch, no-nonsense farm women populated the women’s group. An artist at heart, I felt often like a bird that had strayed from its natural habit.

 The gift seemed a great contradiction: a tiny rectangular box that didn’t open, decorated with a painting of a mother and a child, holding hands and walking down a long road. From its side protruded a crank with a red knob on the end.

 Puzzled, I turned the crank. Out came a tune—La Vie en Rose.

 I wound the music box up often that year, just for the tickle it brought. Somehow it helped me forget my feelings of displacement. Someone in that church had chosen a gift of absolutely no practical value. Something crafted only to bring delight. The thought comforted me.

 At the end of the year, I learned her name. Lisa had also been transplanted to that community. For years she’d tried to fit in. No doubt she understood my unspoken feelings.

 “Of course I remember you,” I said now. “How could I forget? I still have the music box you gave me. It’s survived all our moves!”

 Lisa slowly raised a closed hand, then opened it. In her palm rested a small circular brooch that appeared to have Scandinavian origins. Its circumference was decorated with scalloped edges and embossed hearts. At the center rested a small, bouquet of tiny, perfectly formed roses and forget-me-nots.

 “Do you remember this?” she asked shyly.

 I stared, unbelieving.

 “You made it for me,” she said.

 I had, indeed. In the days when I worked more with art, and less with words, I’d carefully sculpted its every bud and blossom—even the white carved base, from bread, white glue, and acrylic paint.

 “You kept it!” Our eyes met over her hand. In that moment I think we both knew, in the quiet places of our hearts, that God had arranged those gifts himself.

 When life places you – even by what seems your own choice – in situations where you feel lost, alone, and out of your comfort zone, know this: God hasn’t lost your address. If you watch for his unexpected gifts, you’ll find them.