December 22, 2010

Sacrifice...

Gift-giving and receiving is on nearly everyone’s mind during this season.  Some of the presents passed from hand to hand among family and friends will be small, some big, some sentimental, some practical, but all meant to bring joy to the recipient.  It’s not surprising at this time of year to see people give sacrificially to those around them.  There’s an element of obligation involved, but it’s generally infused with a sincere desire to please someone and show them you thought of them.  Generosity and kindness flow freely at Christmas.
Our family was on the receiving end of that sort of generosity and kindness that is befitting a good Christmas story.  But it wasn’t Christmas.  It was an average weekday in February, and the kids and I had school just like we do on any average weekday.  Their dad was doing what he did on average weekdays,  sitting in his office at work.  The only difference was that work was hundreds of miles away.  We were in the process of trying to sell our house in New York while he worked at a new job down south.  He came home every other weekend, and I held down the fort in between.  It was a challenging time, and if we had it to do over again we would handle it entirely differently.  But we did what we did, and it was difficult on all of us.
Friends of ours came by on that average day in February and gave us a gift that excited our kids beyond description.  They brought their Wii game system, set it up, and turned it over to us.  They knew the kids needed a distraction and diversion through this time, and shared with us in a way that left me speechless (which is not easy.)  It wasn’t something they were planning to get rid of and decided to just dump off at the Wilburs’ house; it was something they had been enjoying as a family themselves, but had determined that the Lord wanted them to give it to us.  They gave sacrificially.
The foundation for their generosity and kindness is the reason why you won’t see their names here.  They didn’t give us a Wii system so that someday I’d write in a blog about how generous they were.  They didn’t do it because of anything we had done or could do for them, nor out of obligation.  They gave sacrificially to us because of the One who sacrificially gave an unspeakable gift.  This family believes and follows the same Lord that we do, Jesus Christ, who gave everything by dying for us on the cross, and was raised again the third day, the One through Whom we have eternal life.  Our friends are who they are because of Him.
We were grateful to these special people for a gift that eased the difficulty of that time of our life, and grateful to the Lord for providing through them just what our children needed.  If you aren’t familiar with Wii, one of the unique features is being able to create a character for yourself with which to play the games and make it resemble you.  Then the system integrates all these characters into the background of the games, even the characters of people not playing at the time.  They’ll be on your team in a baseball game, or cheering you on when you’re doing step aerobics.  They’re in the orchestra when you’re the conductor in a music game, and so on.  We kept these cartoonish versions of our friends in the system they gave us.  It seemed right to have them there waving and cheering us all on with their friendly smiles.  That is the sort of people they are.
But they wouldn’t want me to end with that.  They would rightfully want me to remind you just one more time that it’s not them, it’s the Lord.

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