Have you ever received a gift that you were happy enough to receive, but wasn't really that big of a deal? And then, have you ever taken a new look at that gift later and realized that it was much more significant gift than you thought originally?
Quite a few years ago, we received a box of computer paper. It was that particular kind of paper that was used in the old dot-matrix printers ~ maybe you remember the kind. Each sheet was attached to the next sheet, and you separated them at the perforations, which were every eleven inches. Then you had to remove the little strips along the sides of each sheet. These strips had holes in them which were used by the 'gears' on the printer to move the paper along as it was receiving the dots of ink deposited in matrices which the readers interpreted as letters and words. Once the sheet was removed from the other sheets, and the strips were removed, what was left was a standard letter-sized piece of paper (with little perforation bumps along each edge).
The stack of paper we received had to be at least a foot thick. It's impossible for me to accurately estimate how many sheets of paper were in the box, but it had to be in the thousands. I thought, when we received this box, that it was a nice enough gift, especially since at the time our daughter would regularly create sculptures out of nothing but paper and tape.
Over the past five (or more ... ?) years, the kids have made sculptures, drawings, paintings, and airplanes, out of this paper. They've written stories, taken notes, made grocery lists, and crafted mother's day cards out of these sheets.
A couple days ago, I noticed on our kitchen counter one of these pages with a recipe written on it. There was a stack of blank paper (with the edge-hole-strips still attached) next to the recipe, and at that moment I realized that this gift given to us by someone I've forgotten was much greater than many of the other gifts we've received.
Every once in a while I'll notice something like that, something that's a gift, but which I haven't recognized for what it's worth, and which I haven't received or acknowledged with the appropriate gratitude.
I realize that this, more often than not and much to my dismay, is how I often respond to the Gospel.