So the other night, we read about Abram and how he obeyed God's command and had to take a pretty unpleasant trip across the desert. I think that story can hit home to many of us sometimes. Sometimes we just don't feel like doing "the right thing".....sometimes we flat out refuse. I know I am totally guilty of this....but I also know that God promises us that we will be rewarded when we do what He asks us to do. It may not be a financial blessing or even a direct answer to the things/situations we pray for....but we should trust that He knows what we need, when we need it.
So last week, my pastor talked about how Jesus told the Pharisees that they should host a feast and not invite all their peers, leaders and "higher up" friends. These people could always repay them for their efforts. No, they should invite the cripple, lame and poor.....people who could never repay them for the feast.......but their reward would come in other ways. Not so sure that the Pharisees listened.....but this concept def. intrigued me. It's true.....we often go the extra mile in gift giving for people, who let's face it......don't really need "stuff", ykwim? I mean, it's nice to get someone a present for Christmas, but sometimes we really start going overboard with wracking our brain to buy a gift for that "person who has everything" or "is hard to buy for". And quite frankly......most of the time, that person really isn't super impressed or ends up returning it. It's so much easier to just pick out anything (not really putting any thought or effort) for people who aren't really as close to us, and we do it just to follow through on a tradition or obligation.
He also talked about how Jesus told people that if they had two coats, give away one. So if we try to work this into "our" day.....this would probably mean, if you have 6-8 coats......give away at least 2-3. I mean, how many coats do we really need? He also talked about how when we give to the poor.....we are really giving to Jesus. So not to pick that old '80s-style fringed leather coat that is crammed in the back of your closet and pass it along to the needy (yes, I was an 80s girl and had a fantastic fringed coat.....along with a rocking pair of spandex! *shudder*......and a little fyi.....I don't think that style will ever come back.....so it's time to let go, dude).
Would we pick out something that isn't even suitable for us, and give it to Jesus?? No, we should pick out our two favorite coats.....keep the #2 choice, and pass on the #1. Jesus (a.k.a. the poor) deserves our best.
So trying to apply this lesson in our house......I suggested to N that we should go through her toys and pick out a few of her favorites and give them away. So she came to me with the rattiest of her My Little Pony collection. These were the ones who had about four strands of fiber left on their manes and tails. I looked her in the eyes and asked her if these were truly her favorites. She got all teary eyed, looked towards the wall and the convo went like something like this:
N: yes, mom.....they are! I love these so much!
Me: (obviously not very convinced): are you sure?
N: yes, I love these so much! (still looking at the wall)
Me: So if I asked you to give a special toy to Jesus, this is what you think He deserves?
N: well, no. (looking down and lip starting to quiver)
Me: remember, when I told you that you should feel lucky enough that you have so many nice things to choose from to give to someone who might not have any. You surely can find a much nicer Pony for them. Pretend you are giving it to Jesus.
N: (still reluctant, but feeling as convicted as a six year old can get) OK
She returns with one of her newest Ponies and hands it to me.....she didn't have a spirit of happiness surrounding her that I was hoping for. But being realistic in this situation, I was thankful that she didn't have a white knuckle grasp on it when handing it to me. I did hear her make a comment as she was walking away about how Jesus probably doesn't even play with My Little Ponies anyway.
So then Josh came home this morning after running out for a coffee and mentioned how the Marine Corps was doing a collection this morning for *new* toys at the State Police station. He asked if I had anything we could give. I instantly thought about the financial crunch we are in, and said no. Funny how God can poke you in the memory bank and remind me of the 2 Webkinz I scored at a sidewalk sale this past summer. I stashed them away for friends' children, but then thought about the Pharisee reference. My friends kids are far from underprivileged and I could still go out and get them something else.
Then it dawned on me. Perfect time for another "lesson" for N too. (see, I am always multi-tasking and taking advantage of what life presents me!)
I wanted her to see the "giving brings reward" in a six year old level of comprehension. Not sure if what I did was the best way.....but I never claim to not screw up from time to time.
So I called her into my room, and explained that I had two new Webkinz in this bag. Her eyes lit up like saucers...."for me????" she giggled with excitement. "No......but one will be for you and I am going to let you choose which one can go to *the sick kids*" (that is what she refers to any charity).
I told her that she could have the Webkinz now, but she would not be able to log on the computer and do all the stuff these kids do with online "pets" until Christmas. (btw, I wish I was the genius who thought about taking a $1.99 stuffed animal, assigning a "code" to it, create a very simple program/website and turn around and sell them at $14.99 a pop. unreal.) She surprised me and agreed to all the terms laid out. I reminded her about how when you give a little.....you recieve too. And how because she was willing to give someone something that she would have wanted to keep....she would be blessed with her own reward. Again, not so sure if that was the healthiest way to reiterate that lesson, but it's what I went with.
She did innocently have a good question as we handed it to the Marines......."if those kids are so poor that they live in boxes (we had talked about homeless families as well).....how are they going to have a computer and internet? Maybe we should buy them a computer too"
I told her I would have to think about that one......;)
Well I hope this finds you well......maybe this weekend would be a great time to go through closets and make up a bag for your local shelter. (*remember no spandex) I bet they would even appreciate some of your extra Christmas decorations to brighten up their temporary living space. We don't always know what happened in their lives to bring them where they are.....and it's not our place to ask (judge). It's our place to just do what is right. We are promised to receive great blessings in ways we cannot even imagine.....
peace and love~