The Present

Several years ago I was sitting in a staff meeting at the church where I worked. That day, we had invited a guest minister to come and speak to us about staff relationships and other church leadership matters. One by one, we went down the table, introducing ourselves to him and telling him what our roles were as part of the leadership team. When he got to me, I said, “My name is Donna and I am the coordinator for Isaiah 58.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth, he looked at me, smiled and said. “The Lord just told me that He was going to give you a present.”

I looked at him, thinking, “What? A present? What kind of present? From God?” My face must have looked puzzled, because he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know what that really means, but when I looked at you, that’s what God told me. He’s going to give you a present.”

I quickly gave him the once over. He was a good sized man in his late sixties, early seventies, grayish-brown hair, wore glasses, jeans and and a buttoned down plaid shirt. Who was this messenger from God? He looked kind and quite ordinary. I summed him up in one word: trustworthy. Immediately, I was a believer, a taker, a “toker” and a receiver. My mind was racing with thoughts. “My birthday IS next week and I can’t believe how fast the years are going by and I totally hate getting older and what if God really did give me a present?” (It’s funny how your mind can think of all these things in only two seconds.) “Well…my birthday IS in five days…” I said slowly, with a sense of wonder. He looked at me, lifting his elbows up to the table while resting his chin on the knuckles of his interlocking fingers. “All I know is that God told me He was giving you a present. Maybe it will be for your birthday.”

I have no recollection of anything else that was said in that meeting. All I could think of was that the words were out there, hanging like laundry on a clothes line, blowing around and snapping in the breeze, shouting to the atmosphere, “You are going to get a present from God.” I had never been told that. There was so much hope in that statement. The shear possibility of it happening manifested in my body, running up and down my spine, making me want to run home and see if there was a package in the door or an envelope in the mailbox with my name written on it in some exotic handwriting that looked like it came from heaven’s administrative offices and with a mysterious return address on it, known only to God. The feeling was so wonderful that I wondered if this could be the gift: the feeling of delicious expectation. It was a heady feeling and I felt a little bit dizzy. I wanted to giggle. I looked at the others in the room with me. Were they wondering too? Would they be watching me to see if I would be getting some type of spectacular gift, like a luxury car or Rolex? Or would they be thinking…”I have noticed that Donna has been emotional lately. She’s been looking kind of tired. Maybe God’s going to give her some extra peace and patience…or a chance to get some rest…the kind of things that aren’t really tangible.”

Phooey. What did I care what everyone thought anyway? God didn’t tell anyone else that He would give them a present. He told me that, personally. I was left alone with my imagination for days.

I rationalized it. God gives us gifts all the time doesn’t He? I was blessed. I already had a beautiful family, home, friends, good health and a nice job. Why should I expect more than that? Maybe I had already received the gift and the kind gentleman was just a bit “off” on his timing.

I let my imagination run wild. What if He had decided to give me something that I had always wanted? Hadn’t we always been told to go to God with a specific list? “You have not because you ask not.” I had trouble being specific. I could not come up with a list of five things I ever really wanted. What was wrong with me? Did I have everything I wanted? It’s hard to get a present for someone who has it all. I felt like I was playing the “if you had three wishes what would they be” game. Nobody ever really wins that game.

I finally decided that God already had my gift and it was not up to me to tell Him what to give me. He had already been to his God store, bought it and had it deluxe gift wrapped. I just had to wait for the right timing and let Him choose when we could have our own little private party. I couldn’t believe how excited and full of expectation I was. I didn’t say a word to anyone. I had a feeling it was going to be huge and I didn’t want anyone feeling jealous of me. I walked around smugly and kept my thoughts to myself.

I woke up to a beautiful day on my birthday, the day I thought I would get my present. I hugged myself most of the day in anticipation, looking around every corner and under every rock as a possible hiding place for my most special gift. I was hoping I hadn’t hyped it up too much in my mind. A gift is a terrible thing to get hyped up on. It may disappoint. It may be something that you need really badly but no one will ever know that you got it because it’s hidden from public view and no one will ever see it (like underwear, socks or…an iron.) This gift could be totally, spiritually utilitarian, like a gift card for EGR, (extra grace required,) to be used on a tough situation nobody knew that I was going through. Heck, it could be anything! I decided to wait it out and let the gift come to me.

So I waited…and waited…Nighttime came and we had dinner with the children and friends. I looked around the happy table and wondered, once again, if my gift was just an important reminder from God showing me how “gifted” and “present(ed) my life already was. I was satisfied and went to bed thinking of the multitude of reasons for me to be glad and thankful.

I lay there for a while, my eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling. Maybe the old guy had missed it and I should just forget about it and go to sleep. I sighed, turned onto side, curled into myself and closed my eyes. “Why do people tell you that God says that something good’s going to happen to you and it doesn’t?” I was ashamed to think like that. I was a grown woman. I lay in a fetal position and invited disappointment and self pity to wrap their cold, long fingers around my heart. Pulling the blanket up over my head, I sealed myself into a tight cocoon of despair and let the tears start sliding out of the corners of my eyes, forming little puddles on my pillow.

“Girl, I was thinking that you and I would be having our own little birthday party, not a pity party. I hate pity. I think I’ll leave.”

“Wait…God …is that you? Don’t go!” I threw the covers off sat straight up in bed. “No…I just thought that…”

“I know what you thought, but you’ve already given up on my present for you.”

“I didn’t mean to. It’s just that today was my birthday and I thought it would come today. See…it’s late…it’s after midnight. It’s not even my birthday anymore.”. I felt like such a whiny baby.

“I had to wait until it would be just you and me,” God reasoned. You were so busy in the day doing what it is that you do, I had to wait until the perfect time. I couldn’t give it to you without a little bit of explanation and instruction.

Embarrassed in front of him for acting like an eight year old, I sheepishly asked, “So…can we just forget about the pity party and tears?”

He threw back his head and laughed. “What tears? I don’t see any tears. I only allow happy tears on birthdays.”

I fell back down on my pillow, lay on my back and put my hands under my head and then crossed my ankles. I had a feeling that God was getting ready to blow my mind and I was ready for it. I wiped away all the tale-tale signs of tears and just tried to grasp the moment. “So, this is going to be one of those intangible presents that only you and I will know about, huh?” I asked him, preparing myself for something extraordinary.

“Why are you so worried about if it’s intangible or not?” He started laughing. “Those are the best kind of gifts. Anyway, every good present and every perfect gift comes from me. You’ve always had this gift. I’m just going to make you aware of it and show you how to use it.”

I was ready for God to give me my gift. “O.K. Well…What is it? Is it in this room?

“We are going to have to work on your patience with me,” He said. “You’re not so bad with other people, but with me? Horrible!”.

I thought He was teasing me, so I rolled my eyes…”Why are you making me wait?”

“Alright…alright…Just stare up at the ceiling. Stare until you see something.”

It sounded like a strange request, but, hey, this was God and He could do anything or ask of me whatever He wanted to. I began to stare…

I stared until my eyes began watering. I wiped them and blinked a few times, staring into the dark ceiling “screen.” He was quiet as I lay there, never saying a word. It was like I was waiting for a movie to begin.

I don’t know how long I gazed into the darkness, but suddenly, I saw the shape of a box take it’s place on the screen in my mind. As it came into focus, I noticed that it was a big, clear box, filled with tiny bits of paper dancing around each other. It vibrated with energy and the lid shook underneath the sparkling bow. I thought I heard it humming.

“God is this it? Is this my present?”. I wondered if I was dreaming, but I knew I was barely sleepy.

“Sure is,” He said excitedly. “Open it.”

I slowly lifted it and held it up to the light. It was a box made of shimmering glass and I could see through it perfectly. Inside, I saw what appeared to be black and white little pieces of paper swirling around as if wind was blowing them. On inspecting more closely, I saw that some of the bits of paper had words on them and that others had black music notes on them. Immediately, I knew that it was a music box with thousands of words and musical notes dancing around on the inside, waiting to be put together as lyrics and melodies. Together, on the inside, of the box, they were charged with a type of energy and anticipation. I saw no machinery to make this happen but the contents of the box were alive with creativity and I wasn’t sure what would happen when I lifted the lid.

Gently, I pulled the glittery ribbon off the top of the box and as soon as I did, black music notes spilled out onto my white down comforter in a tumble of familiar music. In astonishment, I laughed out loud, not believing what I was seeing. This was a music box and it was alive!

To my surprise, I saw words gather up as if a magnet was pulling them out of a word pool, bringing them together out of the music box. I saw them fall down to my pillow and string themselves together in what seemed to be a familiar lyric.

“I’ve been alive forever
And I wrote the very first song
I put the words and the melodies together
I am music and I write the song.”

“Wait a minute…Wait a minute…This is crazy. Are you showing me a music box that…puts together songs and melodies? Because if that is what this is, it’s totally cool! I mean..Wow!”

God said, “You like it? I created it myself!” He seemed proud of His creation and really wanted me to like it.

“Well, yeah, I LOVE it! I mean…do you know what a singer songwriter would do to get one of these?” I looked at Him, shaking my head in disbelief, thinking how amazing the music box was but not fully understanding what I was seeing and why God would choose me to have this supernatural gift. I looked down at the words strung together on my sheet…I recognized them. Didn’t Barry Manilow sing that song years ago?”

“Yeah, he did. He and several others.”

“It’s called, ‘I Write the Songs,’ isn’t it?”

“Uh huh. Remember the chorus?” As soon as He asked me that question, other words were magically pulled out of the word pool and fluttered down to arrange themselves on my pillow in the form of a lyric.

“I write the songs that make the whole
World sing.
I write the songs of love and special things.
I write the songs that make the young
girls cry.
I write the songs. I write the songs.”

“Who wrote this song?” I asked. “I mean, who pulls the words and the melodies out of the box?” For some reason, I felt like this gift was more than the coolest music box in the world. I was about to learn something that would change my life and the way I thought of creativity.

“I did,” God answered back. He had a sound in his voice that must have sounded a bit like Michelangelo’s did when someone asked him who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

“You did? You wrote it?” It was so hard to believe. “You’re kidding me, right? Because if you did, then I’m confused. I’m sure somebody else wrote it and sold it to Barry Manilow and he made a lot of money off of it as well as the writer….” I trailed off the thought. Was God a ghost writer of sorts who wrote for musicians or did he just write music all over the earth, leaving his music notes and lyrics laying around in obvious places for less talented people to find, steal and get credit for?

Why was I being so skeptical of what God had said to me? He was God, after all, and we had many conversations before like this. He always told me the truth in ways I could understand it.

“Don’t believe me?” He challenged me. “Look at the next verse.”

“There goes God again, reading my mind,” I thought. The words came falling out of the box and formed themselves under the chorus.

“My home lies deep within you
And I’ve got my own place in your soul.
Now when I look through your eyes
I’m young again, even though I’m very old.”

The black music notes were coming up to my pillow when they realized that they belonged to the words. They didn’t want to be separated from each other, the music and the lyrics. I imagined that God was taking his finger and conducting the song. Other words joined the score to finish it out.

“Oh, my music makes you dance and gives
You spirit to take a chance
And I wrote some rock’n roll so you can move.
Music fills your heart, well that’s a real
Fine place to start
It’s from me. It’s for you.
It’s from you. It’s for me.
It’s a worldwide symphony.
I am music and I write the song.”

“So music wrote the song. You are music?”

“Yeah, I am. Pretty cool, isn’t it?”

“Actually, it blows my mind…I mean…it blows my mind.” And with that I scooped all the lyrics and music notes together and held them in my hand. They were alive and quivering with sound waves and energy.
“Hey God, I hope this gift comes with instructions or something, because I have some questions.”

(I’ve divided this post into two segments. I’ll post the next part of “The Present” early next week. Thanks guys!)


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Baker
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 15:18:26

    I could see the whole thing transpiring, all the notes and words pouring or rather floating out of the beautiful box. God gives perfect gifts! Our postion is to simply trust. In His time and in His way, He gives us exactly our heart’s desire. It’s amazing! I again loved your blog. Your heart sharing is heart warming! It reminds me of God’s wonderful love and faithfulness to all who simply receive. May all who read be refreshed and inspired to believe.


    • themuseinme
      Jan 21, 2012 @ 15:47:49

      The gifts God has for us are so fantastic and sometimes so far fetched, we truly have to behave like children to recognize, receive and understand them. Here’s to all of us “kids” out there who dare to believe that things like this can really happen and then learn how to use them to make a difference.


  2. alabamapeggy
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 23:31:01

    I enjoyed this, Donna.You have a real gift for bringing inanimate objects to life. I love the dreams all over the house and the notes and music “charged with anticipation.” Have you thought about writing books for children? They would love your imagery and the build-up of anticipation and excitement. I’m looking forward to part two. I also enjoyed revisiting Barry Manilow and his music.


  3. I.M. Fletcher
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 15:35:11



  4. sandra whatley
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 16:40:28

    So enjoyed this Donna!!


  5. Kim Waites
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 23:41:10

    I am so glad to hear more of the story about God’s revelation to you. I happened to be at WA when you touched on this briefly and always think of your experience when I hear Desperado. Thanks for sharing.


  6. themuseinme
    Feb 01, 2012 @ 19:47:24

    Thanks, Kim! I love this revelation and hope others can latch on to it too! Thanks for reading.


  7. anne2ken
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 02:37:20

    WOW!! I am searching for the lyrics of the song and for some reason (I’m in the office and the IT dept blocks the entertainment site. I could not get through to the lyrics webpage.) I can’t get them. I am here out of random search. I am very much amazed to find your writings for this is the very song that played in my head a year and a month ago.

    I attended 40 days of love activity in my church and was nursing pity for unrequited love. I asked God to take it away if it was not for me and within a snap He actually did it. While I was wondering what happened, why was I not feeling the same way, this song kept on repeating in my head.

    “I write the songs of love and special things” “I am Music and I write the song.” That time I did’t know the whole lyrics of the song yet (only partly ’til now, but I know God is somehow telling me to trust Him; that indeed He is Music and He’ll write the songs.

    Thank you for posting your story. 🙂


    • themuseinme
      Apr 03, 2012 @ 18:06:27

      Thanks for reading, “anne2ken.” I’m so glad you stumbled across in your web searches. It’s good to hear that people are listening to God speak to them through the beautiful, universal language of music. If you open your ears to hear, you will hear His voice clearly through the meaningful lyrics of everyday music. Happy listening!


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