Gifts from Determined Hearts
Several days ago, my wife and I received a letter from a couple whom we have known for over 30 years. In part, the letter read as follows:
"Years ago, Sue* made a promise to donate her first social security check to the Lord. Here it is -- all $521* is to be used for your ministry. Our message to you is we like what you are doing. Please keep up the good work. In our prayers, we ask the Lord to give you good health, happiness and many more years of service."
Apart from the fact that my wife and I are both greatly encouraged by the support, endorsement and prayers of this couple, there is something else about this letter that strikes me. It is about the thankful attitude of Sue and her perseverance in keeping her promise before her Lord. Many years have passed between her initial wish to give to the Lord and her actual ability to do so. Many things have happened during those years that could have changed her mind, her desire, and her priority.
To remember one's promise before the Lord for so many years is a very precious thing. While my eyes became blurred as I read the letter, my mind was very clear in remembering Sue. She has always been a homemaker, a devoted mother and a supportive wife. As far as I know, Sue has never worked outside of her home. She and her family attend church services regularly. She is not known to teach Sunday school or chair a meeting, but she can be counted upon to prepare more than her fair share during any potluck at church. She does what she can. Sue has always been faithful in all that she does. Her home is always open for meetings of various sorts.
Talking about home reminds me of another home my wife and I visited in July. We had wanted to visit Jeff* for a long time -- ever since we heard of his wife's death and return to the Lord a couple years ago. Besides his wife, Jeff had also lost his brother, a Christian businessman, a few years ago in an accident. We were glad we finally had the opportunity to visit him to personally show our support and appreciation of him.
It was refreshing to see Jeff so open to talk about the loss of his wife and brother. Their loss is still keenly felt, but his healing is equally evident. In the midst of talking about his past wounds and his present ministry of caring for the emotionally wounded, he mentioned the grand piano in his living room. It is a gift from his daughter who had just married shortly before our visit.
Jeff told us, "My daughter told me recently that she wanted to give me a piano ever since she was five years old." "What?" I asked. "Five years old!" She had planned to do this at such a tender age. And she remembered all these years. And then she actually fulfilled her plan after a quarter of a century!
Both Sue and Jeff's daughter had to wait many years before they could carry out their wishes. The long duration reflects the intensity of their desire. I was impressed and encouraged by their examples.
Their examples caused me to consider God's love toward us. God's desire to save us was conceived "before the creation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). If the creation of the world is taken to be 20 billion years, that means God had the will to save us many billions of years ago.
For those of you who are really precise about the number of years, you may note that the Bible says "before" the creation of the world. That is, God had the idea to save us before the existence of the universe, meaning before even the existence of time (assuming Einstein's time-space continuum is correct).
Can you grasp that? I cannot.
All I can grasp is that God loves me with an infinite love from infinity past.
If I am impressed by a homemaker who gives to the Lord her first social security check and a young newlywed who gives her father a grand piano to fulfill her childhood dream, how much more should I be impressed by what God has done?
Thanksgiving is about giving -- giving of thanks. It is about giving of gifts to God as a token of our appreciation for what He has done for us, and giving of ourselves to others.
God has already given so much so long ago and He continues to give.
This Thanksgiving, maybe it is time for you and I to give something in return.
(*Names and dollar amounts have been changed.)