Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Least of These

Carson and I had a date tonight.  We went out to eat Italian and almost killed a large cheese pizza and a pepperoni calzone between the two of us.  Don't judge.  I got him a hand dipped malt, but I refrained.  After we'd had our fill, we went to the store to get our boxes done for Operation Christmas Child.  It's one of our favorite things to do together.  This post isn't about us though. 
We look forward to getting the Samaritan's Purse catalog with the pictures of all the little kids with their Christmas boxes.  Most of them are dressed in old, stained clothes....sometimes, barefoot with primitive homes in the background.  Some of these kids live in perpetual war zones.  Where disease is spreading and killing their parents. Where terrorism flourishes.  Where food is scarce.  Where clean water is hard to come by.  But these little boxes put the biggest smiles on their faces.....maybe for a moment, helping them forget the poverty and challenges they face.           
I try to wrap my head around that kind of want.  I've been picking up things here and there for my own kids' Christmas for a month or two now.  The UPS man leaves a couple of packages at my door every week and I have them hidden all over the house.  I admit that they will get more than they should like most kids in America.  It's hard for us to comprehend that there are places in the world that aren't like here......where we, for the most part, have everything we need and a good portion of the things we want.
If you've never done one, you'd be amazed at how much you can fit in a shoe box!  Hot Wheel cars, markers, candy, bouncy balls, toothbrushes, stickers, stuffed toys, Play-Doh, socks, t-shirts, marbles.  We just can't imagine how a box full of dollar store items could make someone so happy.   
It's had me thinking how need seems to make us much more grateful.  Little things bring more joy when you don't have much.  You appreciate the significance of small things when you have little else to overshadow them.   
Maybe we've passed that point in this country.  There have been times in our nation's history when we were maybe more grateful for the things we had.  Times when things weren't handed out to us and didn't come as easily as they do now.  Times when we appreciated and held onto every little thing and recognized the value in them because there was no surplus.         

Now, we're so bloated with all of our stuff.  We throw away more than a lot of the world ever owns.   If we need it, we usually just go get it.  We swap presents at Christmas and have a hard time thinking of a gift that the other person doesn't already have.  We end up buying gifts just to buy a gift.  We're wallowing in all sorts of excess.  Our closets are full.  We have clothes with tags still hanging on them.  Our attics and basements and storage units are bulging at the seams.  Our garages hardly have room for our cars.

We've got our electronic devices that we can't live without.  We've got houses, big screen TVs, boats, industrial appliances, jewelry, granite countertops, 40 pairs of shoes, RVs, and way too much food to eat.  That kind of excess can't help but make us a little indifferent.  Do we really stop and appreciate all that we have?  Do we lose the eagerness to regularly thank God for it or has that gratitude been suffocated underneath our big piles of stuff?   Have we become like that kid whose stack of birthday gifts is so high that he doesn't really stop and appreciate any of it?      
The most important thing that Samaritan's Purse does is to place a book about Jesus in each box, which is written in that country's particular language.  The box may be just a temporary bright spot in these little lives that probably endure more than we can imagine, but what's in the book......well, that's something that's eternal.  Something that can give them lasting hope in the situations where they find themselves.  They may never have riches here in this life, but they can have the promised riches of knowing Him, which is way more valuable and longer lasting. 
Can you imagine how the parents' hearts would be open to the good news when their children have received joy from something that they could never provide for them?  The quickest way to a parent's heart is by loving their children.  I imagine that's no different.....no matter where you live or what language you speak.  Entire families are becoming Christians because of this ministry.       
Samaritan's Purse does so much more than the Christmas boxes.  Visit their website to see how you can use some of your excess to improve the lives of others and spread the love of God around the world.  http://www.samaritanspurse.org/
         "......whatever you did for one of the least of these, my brethren, you did for me." 
Matthew 25:40
Happy Weekend, y'all!

8 comments:

  1. joni, what a wonderful reminder for us to be mindful of all we have....as you stated, most of have more than we'll ever need. i know my grandchildren do!

    every year my children and i would go to the mall and they would get an angel off the angel tree and we'd have so much fun filling it up...i actually think they enjoyed it more than getting something. they always gave up one of their gifts on their wish lists for those things they bought for the angel tree gift (does that make sense)? i miss doing that so i'm going to the web page source you provided and start a new tradition for me!

    have a great weekend!

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    1. That's awesome, Judy! I love the idea of the children giving something up from their list......sacrificial giving. Thanks for considering Operation Christmas Child! You'll have a blast! :)

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  2. Thank you for this - we're doing our boxes, too! We have been on the receiving end of those angel tree gifts before and it means so much!

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    1. That's great, Missy June! Aren't the boxes fun to do? And I'm so glad the angel tree was there when you needed it!

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    1. I think it's such a great thing, Happyone! It's amazing how much people can do together just by everyone doing a small part. :)

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  4. Ever since my girls were young we've filled those boxes. Now that they're grown (25,22 and 19) we still fill them but we also volunteer at the Samaritan's Purse facility sorting the boxes that are to be shipped. This year's night is December 2 and we can't wait. We feel so blessed to be able to help!

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    1. That's so wonderful! I would love to do that one year! That's a great tradition y'all have going :)

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