We push the cart down aisle after aisle, looking for just the right things. What would you want, if this were the only gift you’d get this year? How do you balance the needful things…flashlight, socks, batteries…with the joyful things that make a child’s heart happy? We spent a long time looking, a long time thinking.
We’re not in a place where we have a whole lot to give. But we quickly found that the painful thing is not parting with what we do have but wishing that we had more to give away. Wishing those shoeboxes that were filled for Operation Christmas Child were bigger, deeper, wider, able to hold so much more. Wishing that we could send the children more than a few small gifts…wishing we could fill a box with hope to send, with fresh water, with abundant food, with a safe, disease-free childhood.
In the end, we packed what we had in tight. Filled as much as we could into each small space. Then tucked into the empty places in each box our prayers, our hopes, our petitions for these precious children we will never meet…and for their families and others like them. Prayers for the love of Christ to fill the empty spaces within them, the need that gapes where we are not able to reach.
Three small boxes, filled with not nearly enough. The precious thing about a gift, though, is the way it changes not just the one who receives it but also the one who gives. The children who open these small packages will know that they are loved, that they are not forgotten. They will hear about the love of Jesus, and that, not these simple trinkets, will fill them in a way that lasts–will bring them hope. The gift will live on in the hearts of the givers, as well…participating in this simple act broadens the horizons of those who take this very small step to act against poverty. Pushing the cart down those aisles and thinking about what life is like for so many children around the world, putting yourself in their place for a few hours, thinking about what they want, what they need, has a way of changing your heart. A way of broadening your vision, enlarging your point of view. A way of opening within you a deeper desire to do more with what you have, to make it reach beyond our lives, beyond our understanding.