My husband and I were faithful newspaper subscribers for years. As time marched on, however, we became disgruntled with the paper, as it didn’t supply enough international news for our taste, nor enough articles of any type that truly interested us. As a result, we switched to The Wall Street Journal, which we happily devoured for a couple of years. When our subscription price increased dramatically and our schedules no longer permitted us to do justice to all the items of interest in that publication, we cancelled it and planned on a newspaper-free household for the foreseeable future. After all, I never really was wild about cleaning all the newsprint off our white kitchen table, and I could not afford to spend time on the crosswords that tempted me.
Our newspaperless state lasted about two weeks. We suddenly found ourselves the recipients of an unsolicited weekend edition of our local paper. Assuming it was a publicity or advertising ploy to induce us to re-subscribe, we waited for our newspaper carrier to ring the doorbell with a proposition that we reinstate ourselves as his customers. No carrier came to the door. Over the course of the next few months, we regularly received, first the weekend papers, then the Thursday paper, and ultimately the Wednesday paper every week. We had never agreed to subscribe to anything, and no bill ever arrived in the mail. We reasoned that perhaps the carrier simply was required to distribute a certain minimum number of papers each day, and we had been chosen as the lucky extra recipients.
This pattern has continued for a couple of years — until this week. Yesterday morning, I looked out and discovered no paper on the driveway. “Never mind,” I thought. “Perhaps they decided to skip Wednesday for some reason.” However, again this morning, there was no paper. My instinctive response was to wonder what happened to “my” paper, as our carrier has a number to call if your paper is not delivered. However, it probably would not be appropriate to call and complain that the carrier had failed to deliver a paper I never paid for….! Then the shock at my own thinking pattern struck me. Suddenly I realized that I had developed a sense of entitlement to something that was delivered to me at no cost. True enough, I had not ORDERED the paper. However, I certainly had enjoyed clipping the coupons, scanning a few interesting articles, and attempting to complete the Sudokus. I had become accustomed to reading the paper most days of the week and actually wondered why it wasn’t there this morning.
The parallel between this situation and my attitude toward God was undeniable. How often does God bless me with something pleasurable or surprising, something I did not request but certainly enjoy on a routine basis? More often than I can count. For one, it never occurred to me to ask Him for most of the benefits I enjoy; yet He daily invents little blessings that I could never have planned for myself at the moment they drop into my life (unexpected hugs from a child, kind words from a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, a bank of flowers beside the road, four jalapeño plants my non-capsicum-eating husband bought to plant in the garden). More than that, how often does He bless with me something I never paid for and certainly do not deserve? All the time. He allowed me to be born to parents who love me; He gave me a husband I not only love, but actually LIKE; He forgives me of every sin; He knows my needs before I ask; He forgets all the mistakes I have made; He knows my desperately wicked heart and promises to change it, even though I haven’t ever and cannot do anything to deserve His mercy. He’s the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, whether I remember to talk with Him or not. Then, when something I have been praying about doesn’t go my way in the time frame I specify, I have the nerve to demand, “What? No paper today?”! THAT definitely gives me food for thought. (See 1 John 2:12; Matthew 6:8; Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Timothy 2:13.)
Father, THANK You for all the blessings, both small and large, both the ones I’ve requested and the ones I never dreamed of asking You for. Thank You for the things You’ve given me that I never realized I needed or wanted. Forgive me for developing an entitlement mentality toward YOU, as You do not owe me ANYthing — yet You chose and continue choosing to keep on giving to me anyway. Thank You that it is Your good pleasure to give me the Kingdom! (See Luke 12:32)