Life is found when we give…not when we get. Jesus himself said in Acts, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Yesterday afternoon Tracey and I read chapter 5, “Becoming the Gift the World Needs – and You Need” from “The Broken Way” by Ann Voskamp. This chapter is about how she and her family spent her birthday – giving. It is amazing how far they went to bless their entire community.
Following is a list of things and ways in which they gave.
The gift of…Gladiolas to the residents of the local Nursing Home
“I fill it (the bucket) with water and glads and schlepp a bunch of jar vases over to the nursing home. The kids and I leave them in the doorways of the residents’ rooms, and there’s no missing the beauty of what these have held and what they’re containers for now— or how entire wings of the nursing home light up in these thousand-watt smiles.”
The gift of…song
“When we’re standing in Room 112 with Mr. Bender, he leans worn and tall over us and asks us to sing one more hymn, and I choke it back a bit when he says right at the end, just before we leave that Mason jar of glads with him, ‘Promise you won’t shed a tear when I finally come to the end of my run and I’m not here but have up and gone? You’ll know I am finally home with my God.’”
The gift of…cookies
“Leaving the nursing home, we pass the police car on Main Street in front of Chocolates on Main, and those crazy boys of ours want to leave a box of cookies there on the hood of a sunning police cruiser.”
The gift of…pie
“We grab a pie at Zehrs Markets and drop it off at our doctor’s office and thank him for catching babies.”
The gift of…coffee
“We head to the local coffee shop and pay for a line of coffees behind us (‘Yes, really. Yes, we’re serious. Yes, for real!’).”
The gift of…donuts
“We grab a dozen donuts to deliver to the fine folks at the town office.”
Ann shares, “And there’s this moment, a glance catching my reflection in the coffee shop window, and this grinning, birthing thought: learning the art of living is learning the art of giving. For God so loved that He gave . . .The art of giving is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made enough love to give.”
The gift of…dinner
“When you walk into a diner across the street and tell the waitress you’re paying for that family’s dinner, it’s a thing you don’t forget, and it feels like an act of re-membering. The waitress laughs and you wink and leave before they’re finished at the all-you-can-eat buffet.”
The gift of…tennis balls
“The boys gift the tennis court with a whole bunch of tennis balls (‘Don’t you think some kids are gonna be surprised, Mom?’).”
The gift of…service & groceries.
“…then the whole lot of us circle over to the grocery store on Mitchell Street, put away grocery carts, grab a few bags of groceries, and drop them off at the food bank.”
The gift of…bubble gum
“Stick quarters into bubble gum machines at Walmart.”
The gift of…groceries
“Scope out the grocery store to buy a cart of groceries for someone.”
The gift of…parking fees
“Tuck parking fees into envelopes, and slide them under windshield wipers for those in the hospital parking lot.”
The gift of…dollars at the Dollar Store
“I don’t even know who has the audacious idea to go up to the dollar store and leave dollars up and down every aisle, but our kids watch unsuspecting kids wander in. Smiles break up every aisle.”
The gift of…lollipops
“This boy in a ball cap stops at the counter and picks up a lollipop we’ve taped a note to: ‘Here’s a dollar. Pick any color. We’re Giving It Forward Today. #BeTheGift.’ His face explodes in this smile.”
Ann goes on to share her daughter, “Hope-girl leans into me, smiling at the sucker-licking boy, and whispers, ‘Don’t you think giving is the greatest?’ She’s smiling like her heart might burst. ‘Look at him! I mean— giving is the most beautiful of all.’”
“I reach over and find Hope’s hand. ‘A good day, Mama, a good birthday day.’ She swings my hand high like those kids at the park. Her smile feels like grace. ‘Nah.’ The Farmer (Ann’s husband) grins, Shalom swinging from his arm. ‘A great day. The best day.’ ‘The kids at the park, at the dollar store, the family in the diner,’ Shalom singsongs the day back to us, all our boys ahead of us walking back to the van. ‘That old man behind us at the coffee shop, those mamas with the babies in the strollers, the family at the grocery store we surprised by buying everything in their cart, and Mr. Bender at the nursing home and all his songs.’”
“We lost the day in love. You can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff— and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream— and maybe that’s a lot of lost living. Maybe even in a bit of brokenness, grace moves in you to get up and give to people you love and people you’re learning to love, to go to the park and laugh with your kids or any kids, to give an elderly woman a hand and a listening ear and the gift of presence— that’s large living. The greatest living always happens through the givenness.”
Earlier today Bob Goff shared the following quote on Facebook,
“The way we love each other today, lets everybody know the baby in the manger wasn’t just a decoration.”
What if those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ picked an afternoon, between now and when the kids have to go back to school, and went on a gift blitz? What if we prayed for God to open our eyes to how we could be a blessing to others and we went for it?
The Murthas will do this in Brentwood over the next few days and then we will report back what we experienced. Will you join us? Let’s let everyone know that Jesus is much more than a decoration.
Merry Christmas, friends! Merry Christmas, indeed. It is not too late to give.
A lot of today’s post is from – Voskamp, Ann. The Broken Way (with Bonus Content): A Daring Path into the Abundant Life. Zondervan. Kindle Edition.