Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lagniappe

The other day, my wife and I learned a new word. It was on something she got in the mail. I'd never in my life heard this word. It's lagniappe.

We thought it had to be a misprint. But sure enough, we looked it up. You pronounce it like this: "lan-yap." A lagniappe is "an extra, unexpected gift or benefit," says the dictionary. The word came from the American Spanish phrase la ├▒apa (“the gift”). Then it came into the Creole dialect of New Orleans and acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. Like if you've ever visited New Orleans and bought a dozen beignets (the pastry pictured here), and the baker throws in a 13th beignet for good measure . . . that's a lagniappe.

Suzy and I started thinking about this, and it came to us that Christianity is a religion of lagniappes. We pray because we believe in lagniappes. We have future hope because we believe in lagniappes. In other words, everything that God gives us day by day is a lagniappe. It's a bonus, a little extra thrown in for good measure. He's already given us Jesus; He's already forgiven all our sins. Everything else is a lagniappe. When He answers prayer it's a lagniappe. When He provides food, shelter, and clothing, it's a lagniappe. When He gives us friends, family, spouse, and church, each one is a lagniappe. Even heaven is a lagniappe.

That's what Romans 8:32 teaches us when it says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" If God gave us Jesus (the hard thing), how could He not answer our daily prayers for grace and provision (the easier thing)! Compared to the cross, everything else is just a little thing -- a lagniappe!

This truth should encourage us to be bold in prayer, because God loves throwing in little extras for good measure. We can be confident that if God has given us His one and only Son (i.e., the dozen beignets), He will most surely hear and answer prayer (the 13th beignet).

1 comment:

catbird said...

This post is a lagniappe!
And, believe it or not, we have a great friend who uses this word (correctly) relatively frequently; he's from New Orleans. How 'bout that!
So I heard it pronounced before I ever saw it written. In fact, when he said it to me the first time, I made him spell it aloud!
As for the truth of Christianity as a lagniappe, I love it!