There are not many times when I’m left speechless, but this past week was one of those rare times. I got a serious lesson on “gratitude” the other day when I received a phone call from my dad. We talk regularly so it was nothing out of the norm but after the initial exchange of pleasantries, he began to tell a “funny” story about a close family friend who I lovingly call my uncle. He told me that my uncle has yet to open the Christmas gift I gave him TWO YEARS AGO!! My first reaction was complete disbelief and a bit of confusion. Then when he began to share the details of how it was still perfectly wrapped as if he’d just received it yesterday, we broke out into laughter. We joked about how crazy he was and how we wished he would just open the box!! I remember saying, “I hope by the time he opens it, he’s not disappointed. It’s nothing big… it’s just a George Foreman grill!!” I laughed but my dad ensured me he would not be disappointed… to him it was much bigger than the gift.
You see, my “uncle” has not led an easy life. He comes from an estranged family who abandoned him. He went on to serve in the Vietnam War and like most soldiers returned with psychological damage. The years of drug use has taken a toll on his outer appearance but his spirit has never faulted. He’s always known to have a kind, giving spirit. One that would give his last for his friends and those he considers family. Well two years ago, he was living in a transitional housing apartment for working homeless adults and God laid upon my heart to reach out to him. I asked my father to invite him to Christmas dinner at my house. It was a last minute decision so I had to run out on Christmas Eve to pick him up a gift. I hadn’t seen him in a few years, I had no idea what to get him, and of course the stores had been cleared out. So I settled on the George Foreman grill thinking he could use that to cook meals since he didn’t have a full kitchen in his apartment. I wrapped it up real nice, set it under the tree, and that was it.
Well, when I passed out my gifts, he wouldn’t open it!!! I was taken back for a minute but he just kept saying, “I don’t want to open it right now. I’m going to wait.” Two years later, he’s still waiting because to him that gift meant more than a Christmas offering. He says that he used that gift as a motivator to get out of the homeless shelter and get his own place. He locked up that gift and protected it, only taking it out when he was home. Every time he looked at the unwrapped gift it was a reminder of what he needed to do to get out of the situation he was in. Just two weeks ago, he’s moved out of the homeless shelter, has his own apartment…YAY!… but he’s still not ready! LOL… he want’s to furnish his bedroom first. It seems strange that someone would hold such value to something and they have no idea what it is. It could be an empty shoe box under that wrapper for all he knows. After I got off the phone with my dad, I just sat there in awe of how God can teach life lessons through the simplest happenings in life. I not only learned a lesson in gratitude, but I learned the value of listening to God’s voice. Look at how my inviting my uncle to Christmas, led to me purchasing a gift, which led to that gift making a larger impact than any Christmas gift ever could.
I hope this encourages you to be a giver. It’s nice to receive but it’s an even greater reward when you know that your gift has made a lasting impact on someone else’s life. It could be the gift of your time, money, or even a George Foreman grill (LOL) that could make a difference in someone else’s life. You just never know someone’s story. You don’t know what all they’ve been through and what may be a small thing to you, could be life changing for someone else. I encourage you all to think bigger than yourself, listen to God’s voice, and trust it with all your heart. There’s truly no greater reward!
Tuesday with Bianca