The best stories are the true ones. The most compelling of the best stories always seems to be true ones that we are privileged to witness with our own eyes.
I would like to share a story about something I saw this past weekend.
“Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:1-7)
Every New Year’s Eve, for many years, Laurie and I have opened our home to everyone who is in any remote way involved with our ministry. We feed them and give them a safe place to be on a night renowned for drug and alcohol excess.
We do this to show our gratitude for their support of our ministry.
This past Saturday was New Year’s Eve and over 40 people came and shared their lives with us.
During that night I sat several times to drink in the fellowship and love I was witnessing.
There was a little boy there named Peyton.
Peyton is a normal little, blond haired boy. He is FULL of energy, enthusiasm and busyness. He RARELY stands or sits still. In fact, this night he was either playing with his toys, sneaking bites of dessert or following Laurie or I around offering to help us.
As I was sitting I called Peyton over and asked him to tell me what he had gotten for Christmas. He was hauling around a huge canister and he pointed at it and he said, with a lot of enthusiasm, “I got THIS!”
I asked him to show me what it was, so he opened the lid and peered inside. He showed me that it was filled with little army men, tanks……all sorts of goodies.
When I was a little boy my brothers and I spent countless hours playing with army soldiers like those. I picked up several and looked at them, remembering my childhood.
I told Peyton that when I was his age I had soldiers just like that. I told him I was happy he got them for Christmas.
Then he asked me what I got for Christmas. I told him I had gotten a drill I wanted and a really cool book…then, just to be silly, I said in a sad voice, “But no one gave me any army men.”
What Peyton did next brought a tear to my eye.
Without any hesitation, he reached into his bucket of army men, took one out and held it out to me. He said, “Do you want this one?”
His selflessness and his generosity made me want to cry.
It was beautiful.
Last year his momma prayed with Peyton to receive Jesus as his Lord.
I’m sure he doesn’t understand exactly what all that means.
Heck! I was born again 30 years ago and I’m STILL learning the
implications of the relationship I entered into with the Lord.
No matter what his 5 year old mind understands about God’s Kingdom, grace, atonement, etc. – this little boy could teach many adults about God’s generosity.
Anyone who might have witnessed his willingness to give an army man to me last Saturday would get a snapshot of God’s heart. That little boy LOVES and CHERISHES those toy soldiers…yet, he was unhesitatingly ready to give one to me….because he thought I needed it.
God LOVED and CHERISHED His Son Jesus.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
God was willing to part with the Son He loved because we needed Him.
Little Peyton probably can’t name all the books of the Bible or the loftier points of solid Christian doctrine.
He DOES, however, have a pretty good handle on how to love someone else with the love of the Lord.
I pray that as time goes on we will all understand that truly loving someone else means that we will be willing to do without so that someone else won’t have to.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7-12)
Last Saturday night we followed the Biblical model of meeting in homes. It was a night filled with love, good works, and mutual exhortation.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
And during that simple Gathering of the Lord’s Body a little boy offered to share something he valued with an old man that he cares about because the man seemed to lack something he needed.
This was one of the best stories I’ve personally experienced.
May we all follow little Peyton’s example and be generous and loving toward one another.
And may we all gather together in very simple ways in one another’s homes, in the marketplace, in the workplace, at the park, and in buildings of all sorts to share our lives with one another and give opportunities for other similar simple yet profound acts of kindness and love.
Peyton wanted to share with someone else and he was given a situation in which it was safe to do so.