I pulled into the drive-thru at Starbucks and there he was. It was a cool windy day and a hot latte was what I needed. But I couldn’t take my eyes off a man who was bloodied and beaten roaming from car to car.
Off to the side, the management of the shopping center was watching the scene intently, coaxing the man to leave the property. He continued on from window to window. Most didn’t open their windows to chat with him.
It was easy to sense something wasn’t right. The management was getting firmer and the man kept insisting he was hungry. My heart couldn’t handle what I was watching.
It felt like the Good Samaritan story was being acted out before me. Of course, the man wasn’t knocked out and laying on the side of the road. But there was person after person ignoring his needs.
The man finally relented to the managements request to leave, just as I couldn’t sit still any longer. I opened my door and hollered, “I have something for you.”
He made his way to me. He was a mess. He had definitely been in a fight to warrant this kind of brokenness. I stuck out my hand, “I’m Alene, here’s a gift card you can get a meal with.”
I was thankful I had gift cards handy. He quickly reached for the card. His hand almost touching mine. It was easy to tell he didn’t trust me. The moment seemed to stall in time.
I guess I expected him to say something or acknowledge me. It was alright that he didn’t, it was just awkward. He then abruptly spun around and began to walk away.
I slide back in to my car, and as I reached to close my door, he hollers, “Hey, how much is on here?”
How much is on here?
That question rang through my pondering mind for days. How much is on here. Apparently he was more worried about the amount of the gift than the blessing of the gift.
I’m not sure what I thought the man should say, but “how much is on here” left me baffled. The question rattled my brain. I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t thankful.
Wrestling this scenario down for days, I soon realized I am that man.
I long to have a gift. I roam from prayer to prayer asking God to bless me with a gift. A special gift — one that will help others. And He is so faithful he has gifted me. He has gifted you too.
He gifts us all — car to car. Prayer by prayer. He shows up and hands out gifts. Oh he does. He gives you and I at least one gift, if not more. It’s a promise.
‘A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (1 Cor 12:7 NLT)
Gifts to write, paint, work numbers like a magician, and raise Christian babies.
Gifts to photograph stories of life, bring order to our courts, and doctor others back to health.
Gifts of hospitality, leadership, and encouragement, He gives out.
Oh yes, He hands out gifts lavishly. One after the other.
But this gift of mine. Did I say thank you? Or maybe I shouted back, “how much is on here?”
Am I thankful that I can write and encourage? But have I told God that I’m thankful for these gifts he has given me? Those questions cut me to the core. Oh how much more I am like the beaten man roaming car to car than I care to admit.
And maybe somedays I acknowledge my gift, but not with a thankful heart, of course. It’s more with a beggar’s heart that screams to God, how much is this worth, how far will this take me, how many blessings will come from this?
Oh dear Jesus, forgive me. Forgive us that we stand in contempt of the gifts you grace us with. These gifts are not to nourish our own souls, but to feed and encourage others.
What a dear lesson I learned from the beaten down man — I’ll remember him and learn to say thank you when I can’t see beyond the outside of the gift. I’ll learn to be thankful that this gift somehow will encourage others. Yes, I’ll acknowledge the gift and the Giver. I’ll be thankful.
And you, will you be thankful? Will you acknowledge your gift of encouraging others, painting, teaching, organizing, or employing others? Will you acknowledge these ordinary gifts in your hands and say thank you?
Let’s use our gifts in obedience as a way of saying “thank you”, not fretting over outcomes.
Let’s use them and be thankful letting the Gift-Giver determine the value and reach.
There’s great value in your gift, have you told God thank you?