By Chris Bates
The Gift of One Another
There is nothing like a painted dawn in the Mississippi Delta. On the recent opening morning of hunting season, we arrived well before dawn and had time to sit in the quiet for a while and enjoy the earliest moments of the day. During those times I seem to reflect on lots of things about my life, and on this particular morning, my mind went to thoughts about one of my greatest gifts.
It is an almost unbelievable love story. Even those close to us find it hard to believe how it happened over all of those years. I’ve been taught that many coincidences are actually small miracles, and I believe that God wove the tapestry for this story many years ago.
Our lives ran parallel and almost intersected for more than twenty-five years, but we never connected. I dated someone in her class in high school. We went to the same out-of-state college. As adults, we lived within two blocks of each other two different times. Our kids were going to the same school. Well after each of our first marriages had ended, we dated other people that we each knew, never knowing how closely our paths were to intersecting.
Our roadmaps looked very similar and our trails nearly overlapped so many times, yet apparently, the story was to unfold in His time, not ours. We also had in common, without knowing it, the challenge of having patience about finding the love relationship that we each hoped to find.
Our human nature as children is to wait impatiently for Christmas morning and the gifts we hope to receive. As adults, we still tend to wait impatiently for so much in our lives. We live in hope and anticipation for love, family, career advances, health, contentment, and so much more. Things most often do not happen in the time frame that we want.
Moses led Israel from the Red Sea into the desert where they were weary and thirsty, but God had a plan for those who would follow Him. The story further unfolds in Exodus 15:27 after all of their suffering, “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.” They were then given what they needed by the Lord. The challenge was to have faith and practice patience. Is the same not often true in our own lives today?
As Paul is writing about thanksgiving and prayer to the Colossians, he writes in Chapter 1, Verse 11 about “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.” God gives us the patience that we need, but we must seek His might to find it. On our own, we by nature are as impatient as young children on Christmas morning. There are gifts waiting for each of us, though they may not look like what we thought they would, nor do we always get them is it in the timeframe that we want for ourselves.
In my own story, apparently the springs and palm trees were going to be there, it had just not been the time for Stacy and me to come together at them on our own journeys. Once we did find each other, and in the years that have followed, we were given all that we needed, all that we sought, and so much more. We now live daily knowing that we are given all that we have by grace. We celebrate our marriage, our combined families, the home that surrounds us and the gifts that have so obviously been given to us.
In this season, may you have the patience to wait for the gifts that are to come and the gratitude to celebrate those you are given. God’s grace is all around in the dawn of every new day and in the faces of each loved one. If you have arrived at your springs and shade trees, give thanks for where you are during this season of our life. If you are in a time of needing patience, be strengthened by His might and know that there are plans for your journey as you follow His path.
To share a prayer ending from a recent church service that is fitting for this Christmas season: Let us give thanks for the gift of one another.
Chris is President & Founder of Agora Company, a marketing, website and advertising company based in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraCompany.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.