My middle child, the prissy princess of the family, celebrated her eighth birthday last month. We celebrated with a fancy family tea party, and most of her gifts were things that highlighted the fact that she is definitely an ultimate girly girl. A tea set, a Hello Kitty shirt, a new hat, a hot pink hairbrush, a set of wind chimes made from pieces of a tea set, and an 1850’s style dress to add to her dress-up collection.
The dress was the first gift she opened. We let her open it early because we wanted to take pictures in it before her party (before it got too hot to do them outside), and we wanted her to be able to wear the dress during her tea party.
As I suspected, no sooner had she opened the gift than she asked to be able to put the dress on. Of course we said yes! Once the dress was on her, she and my sister headed outside where my sister captured the most adorable pictures of my little southern belle.
My precious child immediately took on a full character befitting her attire. She posed, prissed, and held herself high and proud. She immersed herself fully in her new dress.
Meanwhile, there were the chimes. Angela loved the chimes, but I could tell as soon as she opened them that her mind was working. They were too precious to hang outside, but she couldn’t figure out where she’d hang them inside. Besides, there was no wind inside. How would they ever catch the wind and produce their beautiful sound!
For a while after her birthday, the chimes didn’t even enter her own room. Instead, they hung in her older sister’s room where there was already a hook fastened to the ceiling. I reassured my sweet princess that as soon as possible, we would get a hook hung in her room, remove the chimes from her sister’s room, and hang them in her room. I told her we would put the chimes right in front of her window so that in the fall and spring when her windows were opened, the chimes would catch the wind. In the summer and winter, she could occasionally turn the fan toward them to make them ring. She was satisfied and waited patiently for the chimes to be moved.
My thought processes about the chimes and temporary location went a little deeper than Angela’s thoughts. It dawned on me that until they were hanging in her own room, Angela was not truly claiming her chimes. They were her gift, but they were not really a part of her. They were hanging in someone else’s room, being enjoyed by someone else.
The whole scenario brings to mind a couple of verses from 1 Corinthians.
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
Paul is getting ready to launch into an argument about the fact that resurrection of the dead is essential to the very foundation of our faith. But, he introduces the argument with these two verses. Essentially, he’s reminding the Corinthians that they have been given the perfect gospel. But, the presentation of the gospel doesn’t do much good until it is not only received, but also believed. It has to be made a part of the very fabric of their beings.
And of ours.
The gift of the gospel is, in a very simple metaphor, like my daughter’s birthday gifts. It can be received and completely absorbed into the very nature of who we are, like her dress was. Or, it can be received but not truly incorporated into our lives, like the chimes were at first. Just like the chimes, the gospel does us no good if we leave it there. If we do not treat the gospel more like the dress, totally absorbing it into our being, then we have believed in vain.
And, for the record, the chimes are now in their appropriate place being fully enjoyed by the princess.