Monday, June 14, 2010

Wasted Gifts

It’s been a while since I’ve written again!  I have been super busy doing “important” things like playing with the kids, cuddling with my husband, making messy crafts and lots of cookies.  Things that before I didn’t always see the value in.  Well, I’ve always seen the value in cookies.  Things that are now invaluable to me.  So now that I am nursing a sprained ankle from an unsightly running tumble, I finally got to writing.  But there will be more cuddling and playing later.

Our middle child is a thoughtful girl.  She loves making cards for a man in our church, helping with the younger girls and in the kitchen.  She spent a lot of time making this card for Maren, who has been nicknamed “wildfire”. 

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Seriously, do you know how special bubble letters are to an 8 year old?

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Maren, living up to her nickname, didn’t give it a second look and threw it aside.  Abby was hurt.  She had spent a lot of time on the card and was excited to give it to her.  I wanted to say that she may as well get used to it because this is a cruel world.  Don’t worry, I didn’t. 

I told her about a time that Dad bought me a very special book for Christmas.  He waited for it to come in the mail.  He wrote me a very special poem and put it inside.  On Christmas morning, he was excited for me to open it.  Guess what I did?  I glanced at it, said thanks and stuck in on a shelf.  He was hurt too.  I had no idea the time and thought he put into that gift.

It happens all the time.  Our gifts and talents are disregarded, untreasured or ignored.  We are hurt.  We wonder if it’s worth it.  A lot of times we are too wrapped up in ourselves to think about others.  I remember when we got married and were opening the vast mountains of gifts.  I was put out by the things some people gave us.  Seriously, was I that big of a selfish brat?  (umm, yes!)  People that sacrificed their time and money to come to our wedding and give us a gift?  They could have spent their Saturday doing a lot of other things.  They could have spent their money on something they wanted or needed.

There’s no way to avoid having your gifts overlooked.  The world is moving too fast to care.  Everyone is too busy to think of someone else. 

The time and energy I put into being a mom and wife is the biggest one I can think of.  Sadly, very few people value that or feel valued for it.  Whether you stay home with your kids or come home from a long day at work and put aside your needs for the needs of your family, it’s easy to wonder if it’s worth it.

I think of my kids and their talents.  There are things that they do that will never win them any blue ribbons or scholarships but are not wasted. 

As much as I want to feel valued for my contributions, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll probably never be named Alumni of the Year from the college I went to for being a mother that makes yummy cookies.  My husband may never headline a large Christian conference as pastor of…what church?  Oh yeah, the one no one has ever heard of.

But God has a different perspective.  He says,

“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.  Any one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.  And if anyone gives eve a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”  Matthew 10:40-42

Sometimes, people wonder if I’m wasting my life.  When am I going to DO something with my life?  I wonder it too.  Sometimes people wonder if it’s worth serving a small church.  There are bigger ones out there and the pay is probably better.  Let me tell you a story.  There is a couple serving a small church near us.  The church does not have a big membership.  It’s kind of out in the boonies actually.  But this Pastor and his wife are a beacon for Jesus right there where God has them.  They are talented and dynamic.  They could probably search out a bigger ministry somewhere.  But when Mike and I were struggling through our issues this winter, we called them.  They continued to pursue us, pray for us, meet with us, encourage us.  They met a huge need in our life and very few people will ever know that.  So are they wasting their life serving in a small church?  Not to me they’re not.  I’m a life touched by the gifts God has given them.  

There is someone who sees our gifts and does not ignore them.  He sees all our acts of giving and love.  He values all the talents He’s given.  He values giving in ways that may not be noticed by many because that’s when we are giving from the heart. 

Jesus teaches about doing things not for recognition but for Him in Matthew. 

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  They your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:1-4

What are you doing that seems insignificant and ignored?  Whatever you do, do it for God.  Parent for the glory of Jesus.  Help an elderly friend move stuff out of their garage for the joy of the Lord.  When you are recognized, give the praise to God.  He’ll never disappoint you.  Even if no one else cares or notices, He does.  And in the end, does anyone else really matter?