A little girl used her mother’s expensive gold wrapping paper to wrap a present. But money was tight, and the mother was upset that her daughter has wasted the paper. Nevertheless, the girl brought the gift to her mother and said, “This is for you.” Though embarrassed by her earlier reaction, the mother became upset again when she saw the box was empty. “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside?” With tears in her eyes, the girl said, “Oh, Mama, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was full.” Crushed, the mother fell to her knees, wrapped her arms around her daughter and begged for her forgiveness. From that moment on, the mother kept the gold box by her bed to remember the unconditional love of her child.
We often speak without thinking, react blindly and do things we later regret. Maybe we should all learn to have compassion before speaking, reacting or acting. You never know what’s going on in the heart of someone else.
“But anyone who fails to show compassion to one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for him that a millstone be hung around his neck, and then be thown into the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
A group of nine-year-olds was asked their opinion on the subject of death. Jim said, “When you die, they bury you in the ground and your soul goes to heaven, but your body can’t go to heaven because it’s too crowded up there already.” Judy answered, “Only the good people go to heaven. The other people go to where it’s hot all the time like Florida.” John thoughtfully replied, “Maybe I’ll die someday, but I hope I don’t die on my birthday because it’s no fun to celebrate your birthday if you’re dead.” Marsha added, “When you die, you don’t have to do your homework in heaven, unless your teacher is there, too.”
We should be so innocent….”Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
There’s a great movie called “Rudy,” which tells the story of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. He lived in a town where he was expected to work at the refinery and live a blue-collar life just like his father and grandfather before him. But he had a dream to play for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and to make something more of his life. His grades weren’t great, so he had to take two years of junior college. He was finally accepted at Notre Dame and without a scholarship was the final player chosen for the practice squad. He was simply happy to be a part of a team with some of the best college players in the country. In his final game as a senior, his teammates, who had really appreciated his enthusiasm and effort, and then the crowd began to chant his name to try to get the coach to put him in before the game ended. He got the surprise of his life when his coach put him in with less than a minute to play. He responded with a sack of the opposing quarterback on the last play of the game. With the crowd roaring sits approval, his teammates lifted him up and carried him off the field on their shoulders. No other player has ever had that honor.
I watch a lot of college basketball and one of my favorites to watch is the UConn women’s team. They have been remarkably successful for over 25 years. Their coach when asked about recruiting new players out of high school noted that, as the years have passed, many young graduates now feel that they deserve to be picked for good teams. They have begun to feel entitles—even before ever putting on a college team’s uniform. The concept of teamwork, unselfishness and hard work are for others—not for others. They want to be the star. So ,a coach who looks for the best team players often has a hard time picking players who fit that mold. Unfortunately, many coaches buy into that philosophy and constantly look for and use players with that mind set. This has led to poor graduation rates as the extremely talented athletes play for a season or two and then immediately go pro.
And it eliminates opportunities for people like Rudy.
He understood waiting. “But as for you, be strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded.” (II Chronicles 15:7) “When the time is right, I the Lord, will make it happen.” (Isaiah 60:22)
This story (quote from Charles Swindoll) brought tears to my eyes as, over time, I’ve known several children with Down’s Syndrome. Sometimes an understanding of the seemingly big and complicated things in life comes from the understanding of the simple basic things.
Philip wasn’t like the other children at church. Though he was a pleasant, happy boy, he struggled with things that came easily to other kids. He looked different, too, and everyone knew it was because he had Down’s Syndrome. His Sunday school teacher worked hard to get the third-grade class to play together, but Philip’s disability made it difficult for him to fit in. Easter was just around the corner, and the teacher had a wonderful idea for the class. He gathered some plastic eggs that pantyhose used to come in and gave one to each child. Then, together, they went outside into the beautiful day. “I want each of you to find something that reminds you of Easter—of new life,” the teacher explained. “Put it in the egg, and when we get inside, we’ll share what we found.” The search was glorious. I was confusing. It was wild. The boys and girls ran all over the church grounds gathering their symbols and finally, breathlessly, the eight-year-olds were ready to return inside. They put their eggs on the table watching. He opened one, and there was a flower. Everyone oohed and aahd. He opened another, and there was a butterfly. “Beautiful,” the girls all said. He opened another and out fell a rock. The kids laughed. “A rock?” But the boy who found it said, “I knew you would all get flowers and leaves and stuff. So, I got a rock cause I wanted to be different. That’s new life to me.” The kids laughed again. But when the teacher opened the next egg, the group fell silent. “There’s nothing there!” said one child. “That’s stupid,” said another. “Somebody didn’t do it right.” Just then the teacher felt a tug on his shirt and turned to see Philip standing beside him. “It’s mine,” Philip said. “It’s mine. The children said. “You don’t ever do things right, Philip. There’s nothing there!” “I did so,” Philip said. “I did do it right. It’s empty. The tomb is empty.” There was another silence. A very deep, unlike-eight-year-olds kind of silence. And, at that moment, a miracle happened. Philip became a part of that third-grade Sunday school class. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness. From then on, Philip was their friend. Three months later, Philip died. His family had known since the time he was born, that he wouldn’t live out a full life span. An infection that most children would have quickly shrugged off took the life out of his body. The day of the funeral, the church was filled with people mourning Philip’ death. But it was the sight of nine third graders walking down the aisle with their Sunday school teacher that brought tears to most eyes. The children didn’t bring flowers. Instead, they marched right up the altar, and placed on it an empty egg—an empty, old, discarded panty hose egg.
After World War II, many American soldiers remained in England to help pick up the pieces of the war-torn areas. One of the most heart-breaking things that they saw in the aftermath was the number of orphaned children struggling to survive on their own. One soldier was driving through one the ravaged towns when he spotted a rag-tag boy with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. He watched in silence while the cook kneaded the dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The soldier pulled up to the curb and walked over to the boy. Through the steamed-up windows, he could see the delicious-looking pastries as the baker pulled them out of the oven. The boy salivated and released a slight groan. The soldiers heart went out to the orphan and he asked, “Son…would you like some of those? The boy was startled, but said, “Oh, yes I would!” The American stepped into the shop, bought a dozen, put them in a bag and walked back to where the boy was still standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag and simply said, “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. The soldier looked back and heard the child ask, “Mister…are you God?”
In these trying times, remember to be generous. Share your love. There are many people in out lives who are hurting. And we are never more like God than when we give. “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.” (John 3:16)
The days, weeks months and years fly by so quickly. Before you know it, it’s too late. Don’t let your words of love, appreciation and encouragement go unspoken or unwritten. How long has it been since you contacted your parents, your best friend, old friends long unseen, but not forgotten? Have you ever contacted a favorite teacher, coach or counselor and told them how much their influence their influence has meant in your life? Can you imagine what news like that might mean to them? With the isolation we’re facing today, now would be the perfect time to renew and maintain some of those relationships. And maybe even to start some new ones. With social media and the myriad of ways to connect with people, the opportunities are there for you to use. And if you’re not connected in that way, good old-fashioned phone calls or letters still work.
“Like cold water to a thirsty and weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.” Proverbs 25:25
In his book, Truman, David McMcCullough shared this story:
As times got more and more difficult, President (Truman), felt more than ever a need to see and talk to what he called “the everyday American.” And he always felt better for it. One evening in Washington, on one of his walks, he had decided to take a look at the mechanism that raised and lowered the middle span of the Memorial Bridge over the Potomac. Climbing down some metal steps, he came upon the bridge tender, eating his evening supper out of his lunch pail. Showing no surprise that the President of the United States had climbed down the catwalk and suddenly appeared before him, the man said, “You know, Mr. President, I was just thinking about you.” It was a greeting President Truman loved and never forgot.
We are living in difficult times right now. If God showed up where you are right now, would you be able to say, “You know, I was just thinking about you.”
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way…”(Hebrews 12:2) And so can we.
If worry were a sport, we’d all be the MVP of our team. Can anyone identify with this? It’s hard not to with our current troubles all around us. When we worry, we torment ourselves. No one else is making us do it. We do it to ourselves. When we worry, we allow ourselves to be consumed by actual things we can’t control and even potential situations that may never come to pass. Worry causes stress to our body, prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep, impacts our relationships, affects our appetites and prevents from doing the daily necessities of life. When we worry, we look for ways to cope. Many of us choose denial, others may turn to substance abuse or fall back into destructive habits they thought they had defeated. Most of us choose something. But they don’t work. The more we worry, the more it occupies our mind. And each worrisome thought is like throwing fuel on our “worry” fire. What we sometimes don’t realize is that we only have so much emotional, mental and physical energy to use each day. Don’t let worry burn you out. Pray and don’t let worry take over your life. And if praying isn’t your thing, try it anyway. What have you got to lose? “Worry weighs a person down, but an encouraging word cheers up a person.” Proverbs 12:25 Encourage each other and be encouraged in return.
I read this and wished that I had this kind of faith.
A grandfather was walking through his yard when he heard his granddaughter repeating the alphabet in a tone of voice that sounded like prayer. He asked her what she was doing. The little girl explained: “I’m praying, but I can’t think of exactly the right words, so I’m just saying all the letters, and God will put them together for me because He knows what I’m thinking.”
Anyone feel the need to start repeating the alphabet?
This past week, I read an article that talked about people who are eccentric, eclectic and extreme-hence “Triple E.” The reason it caught my eye was that I realized that I am that person.
Eclectic? In one of my favorite pastimes, reading, I enjoy science fiction and non-fiction, adventure and romance, westerns and poetry, suspence and fantasy. In music, I enjoy old-time rock and roll and classical, show tunes and Christian, acappella and instrumental, swing and marching bands. Last week my wife and I went to see “Avengers: End Game.” This week we want to see a Christian film. I also like comedies and chick flicks.
Eccentric? Even though I’ve gotten older and more conservative, I still like to wear all kinds of funky reading glasses and crazy patterned socks.
Extreme? I hate weeds in my lawn, so I literally pick them out one by one while on my knees or even sometime laying down on the grass to see them better. One day my neighbor saw me and was ready to call 911 because she thought I had collapsed with a heart attack.
Ultimately, I am a “Triple E” kind of guy. While you may not be a “triple E” kind of person, each of you are unique. Don’t try to be someone else or try to make yourself into what someone else wants you to be. There is no one else like you and no one else could fill your place in the grand scheme of your life. Being different is good…it makes you who you are.
God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.(Ephesian 2:10)
You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. (Psalm 139:13-14)