Sunday, August 17

It's The Little Things...

It's the little things that count.

We hear that phrase all the time. And it's often true. We don't always care if someone lavishes us with a huge expensive gift, but rather that they even remembered our birthday. A simple card, letting us know we are not forgotten, is often more then enough to brighten any day!

I've had a list of things/goals I want to do, see, or own someday. And while over time, what's on the list has changed, it has never ceased to amaze me what gets fulfilled first. It's not always the first one, in fact it's not often the top-ten!

Often I've had very good dreams, with decent, reasonable, and usually very "Christian-ese" items near the top, or first on the list. When I was twelve, my highest priority-dream was to be a missionary. When I was about twenty my top-three was: (1) a decent job so I could afford my own (2) apartment and (3) a vehicle, to get to and from my job.

Anything fancy, or personal (a want or like that was far from a need), was always at the very bottom of the list. It was more like,"if I ever have any extra money, and there is absolutely nothing else 'higher priority' that it needs to go towards first--whether for myself, or another--then this is how I'll use it." Although, at the bottom of the list, the item was not always financial, that was always how I felt about whatever was down there; as though, chances were it would never happen,because there was always going to be something better, physically, fiscally, mentally, and/or "Christian-ly" before it.

Really, my lists had a bottom-most and a highest-priority, but no middle. Because I knew what was most important, what was a long-shot that would never be, and the rest would change from day-to-day. (For instance, in the middle could be gas money, or groceries, both of which would change amount or items from week-to-week, yet they would always rank higher in priority then the bottom items. Obviously.)

Yet, when I was twenty and my dream was to be a Texan, obviously, I had at the bottom of my list "someday I want a Stetson to go with my 'western ensemble'; good cowboy boots in my size, wouldn't be bad either."

Guess what was the first thing God provided for me? Not the apartment, or car, or even the job -- I did not know then that in a year I would move in with missionaries and start traveling around the world, again, so it was good I did not get those things then). No, I got the Stetson. Because I was out visiting a friend, who upon seeing a sale on all hats, felt compelled to get me a Stetson, measured to fit and in a color chosen, just for me. They even gave me a hat pin to go with it! And, yes, later, for an early birthday present someone else got me the boots to go with the hat, because they saw the hat and thought it looked lonely!

I joked once with God that if I ever got engaged, I wanted an heirloom that was not a usual diamond but a sapphire in the middle of little green stones that would look like leaves around a flower. All inset. It was a someday-maybe joke, but within that week someone gave me a ring, that was exactly how I had pictured it in my mind; a ring that was apprised, I'm told, for at least $300! Was I engaged? No. Did I need a ring as valuable as my Stetson (making them the two most valuable items that I owned at the time)? Certainly not!

But I think God's priorities are different then ours. And sometimes, it is not about what we need (or think we need). It is about Him...reminding us how much He loves us.

Dying and raising again, saving us from sin and hell, redeeming us to live with Him, that should be enough. That is enough.

But He does not stop there!

Not because He has to.

If we are examples of Christ, and we get little things for each other, little surprise 'someday-maybe' items just to remind a friend "you are heard; you are loved' you are not forgotten." Then should it surprise us that our example--Christ--does the same?

At that time, I did not need a job in the USA. I could not be tied down by an apartment lease when I was about to move and travel abroad. And I certainly did not need the vehicle and the financial burden it would bring when I would soon have transportation available to me, care of the ones I would move in with. So,maybe I did not know that at the time (in my twenties) I made the list. And I would not realize that for several months, but I have never forgotten (and still own) that Stetson and those boots, because at the time it was like God was saying both "Let me bless you" and "I am looking out for you--love you--even if it is not how you expect." It meant a lot to know He cared...about the unimportant.

That ring was like a reminder from God, that He is mine and I am His. Like two people engaged, I said "yes" to Him years before and made a promise--like Esther and others in the Bible--to "prepare" and make myself ready as His bride. And He made a promise to me, to love me, never leave me, and help me every step along the way. The ring was just a beautiful reminder that He hears, even our 'jokes' and has chosen to be bound to us, for eternity.

I know what some might say. I have heard what some already say about expensive gifts: "It should be sold and the money given to help missions" or "...the poor" or "...the church" or something like that. I've heard many friends say "if I ever won the lottery, or suddenly became a millionaire, I would not keep it, but give it all away!"

I am not judging their word--perhaps they really would do that if it was them. I believe,in all things, whether possessions of worth or money in the bank, we should let God guide us in how we spend or what we do with it. Someone was compelled to give me the Stetson, the boots, and the ring. And God used it in a heartfelt way, that I needed to hear, right then.

Years later, God asked me to give up the ring (but not the promise) to help a Christian organization. But I still have the Stetson and boots.

Then, today, God sent me another little reminder of His love, in another wish fulfilled!

I hitched a ride home from church with an older couple, who were driving right by and would not mind. I did not know that not too long ago, God blessed them by giving them a someday-dream item. I did not realize when they volunteered to take me home after the after-church meeting, that that gift was the thing I had admired for the last couple weeks. It was not, mind you, something I have ever wanted to own, just something I wanted to ride in, just once, someday.

Today I was given a lift home, riding shot-gun, in a Mustang!

Yes, I'm sure it's an expensive gift. Something they could sell and help out someone.

But God gave it to them. He did not compel, nor let other's guilt them, into selling it. I am sure--although I barely know the couple--He had a special message just for them with that gift, too.

But what I know is the message for me...

For today, they had the car, just so I could ride in it!

It's not about judging,based on other's wealth (accumulated or temporary), it's about living the life God calls each of us, separately, to so that God can use us to bless another.

It's about the "little things"--the things at the bottom of our lists--that remind us what love is. Who love is.

And, yes, sometimes, that means keeping the gift just so someone like me--who has no desire to own such a car--can be blessed though it!

And sometimes it means giving it away, like someone gave me the ring, originally.

Or keeping it for a time, so you will be at the right time and place to give it to the one who needs later.

(There was both a message in the getting of the ring, and in my eventual--happenstance--of giving the ring later to help an organization while visiting over a thousand miles away from my home-state!)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the "little things" are worth much more!

What I know, right now, today, is that I am blessed. That God loves me, very much!

Not just loved me when I was sixteen and went on my first missions trip. Not just when I was twenty and got boots and a Stetson.More then just the engagement ring, or the obvious dying on the cross. BUT TODAY, WHEN I RODE IN A MUSTANG!

Today and forever!

But just in case I need a little reminder, I am sure He will find something--something near the bottom of the list, probably--to help me cross off.