Good Gifts

I was working at the Canadian Bible Society Book Store on Monday, April 30, 2001, when a new shipment of Bibles came in, which included a beautiful family Bible, NKJV, with illustrations by the painter of light, Thomas Kinkade. It took my breath away!

As I priced and shelved these Bibles, the thought came to mind that I would love to give one to each of my five children for Christmas. (Yes, I thought of Christmas in April!) These Bibles were very expensive and it occurred to me that by purchasing them now, on a lay-away plan, they would be bought and paid for by December. However, not sure of what my family’s reaction would be, I decided to think about this idea for a few days.

The very next day I opened the following e-mail from my daughter-in-law, Sonya. It was a forward, the most timely one I had ever received; and here it is in its entirety:

A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As graduation day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study, and told him how proud he was to have such a fine son and how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely leather-bound Bible with his name embossed in gold. Angrily, he raised his voice to his father and said, “With all your money, you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house leaving the Bible.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and a wonderful family, but realized his father was very old and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since graduation day. But before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined a verse, Matthew 7:11, “If you then, though you are evil (meaning not perfect) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words…PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?

You guessed it! I bought those Bibles the very next day, and by December they were all paid for, and each was embossed in gold with its recipient’s family name. To my mind it was the best gift I’ve ever given, and no, there were no car keys or hundred dollar bills tucked inside, only my undying love and God’s undying Word.







Do Not Worry

The more I think about this worry habit, the more I feel for the people who haven’t conquered it yet. It is so freeing, not to worry, just like quitting smoking… so freeing.

Jesus says, in Matthew 6:25…do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Well, you’re saying, that’s okay for Jesus to say, but what about this wedding that’s coming up? What am I going to wear? Well, you’re going to do one of two things, you are either going to go out and buy a new dress/suit, or you will find something in your closet that will suffice nicely (or maybe not so nicely, but will suffice.) After all, the focus is not going to be on you, now, is it?

I can say this with confidence, and I’ll tell you why. Many years ago, I attended a highschool graduation of a young lady I knew very well. The girls were decked out to the nines in gorgeous gowns, upswept hair, and impeccable makeup. The guys looked good too. All were smiling confidently.

But the focus was on a young lady dressed in a nicely starched and ironed, plain white blouse, and a pair of blue jeans. Her  pretty face was bare of makeup and her hair was tied back in a short ponytail. She followed in the procession, head high, shoulders back, wearing  a not-so-confident smile.

She was aware of her poverty, and the difference it made between her and her class mates. Although she was graduating head of her class, she had told her teachers that she would not be participating in the ceremony or the gala festivities afterwards. Neither she, nor her parents, could afford the upscale restaurant meal that was part of the celebration; nor for obvious reasons, would she be attending the prom afterwards.

One teacher was so proud of the young lady’s achievements, that she encouraged the girl to receive her diploma along with the class, even if she felt like Cinderella, and insisted on paying for her dinner. “You deserve that much”, the teacher emphasized.

And so, there she was, in blue jeans and ponytail, no longer worrying what she should wear, or what she would eat.

I was not alone in feeling that that young lady was the most beautiful graduate of the evening, nor was I the only one who saw Jesus in the teacher.