Christmas has come and gone and it’s now when we often reflect on the season, the year, lessons learned and maybe lessons lost.
It’s always been important to me that my son know Christmas is not about receiving; it’s about giving. We talk about how our giving reflects the greatest gift that God ever gave to us through Jesus. And we pray about creative ways to be an unexpected blessing to others to share His love.
Last month, we decided we’d bless our family barber. You see, he’s not just any barber… we’re pretty sure he is the world’s greatest barber. Not only because he gives an awesome haircut, but because he’s an incredible person. He’s generous, loving, compassionate, gifted… and funny! He’s one of those people who can always put a smile on your face, and one whose presence leaves you feeling better than you did before you entered his shop.
Our last visit to him was a few weeks before Christmas, and we couldn’t help but notice that Hillsdale Barber Shop didn’t look much different than it had any other day. We secretly plotted how we might help that change. A few days later, when he wasn’t expecting it, we hopped into his shop with festive hats, Christmas music blaring and set out to decorate! It wasn’t much, but God put it on our hearts and we were excited to give. It’s important to note that before we went into the shop, I reminded Zechariah that we were there to bless Martin and that we would not take anything in return (this special barber likes to fill my son’s pockets with candy). We finished our mission and Martin was adamant that he was going to give us money to pay for the decorations. Of course, I adamantly refused and sternly reminded Zechariah to do the same. The scene was comical, but I was serious. We came to bless and there was no way we were going to accept any payment for it!
The amusing battle ensued as Martin tried sneaking money into Zechariah’s pockets in the similar way he loads him up with tootsie rolls and gum. My son’s curious eyes were on me the whole time, wondering how this would end. I pulled him aside, looked into those precious eyes and told him firmly that this was not acceptable. We would absolutely not take the gift. His smile evaporated as tears began to form. An extremely soft, gentle and sincere plea then came. “But Mommy, God wants to bless us back.” Once, twice, three times he said it. Each time, the emphasis on what God was trying to do, not Martin, grew.
Convicted to silence, I gave in.
When we left, I was disappointed and a little frustrated that my plan had backfired a bit. Here is a man who gives and gives and, even when we tried to go out of our way to give to him, he received – but then just kept on giving. Turns out, there’s a lesson in that for us all.
Perhaps as you are reflecting on the past month and the new year ahead, you’ve thought of unique ways you’d like to give or bless others. While planning and giving of yourself is great, don’t get upset if your well-intended plans don’t go as you thought. God sees your heart, and through it all He has the ultimate plan. There may be circumstances in the upcoming year which arise that are uncomfortable, but perhaps God will allow them simply so you can receive. As I have humbly learned recently from my son, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a mark of God’s love. The gifts of time, support or material blessings may come from people, but it’s Him who empowers them to give. Let them. Join with us in giving to others in new year ahead. But don’t forget to embrace the gifts He wants to give to you as well. Receive. Be grateful and be blessed.