Thrift Store, Ugly Sweaters and Jesus
Driving through the neighborhood on trash pickup day, I see I am not alone is doing a pre-Christmas clean out. Rubbish bins overflow with broken and worn out items, waiting for the big trash truck to haul it all away.
Last week I dug through decorations as well as my closet. Broken and unusable items went in the trash or recycling. Then I gathered up extra Christmas lights and trimmings, unworn clothing, kitchen gadgets that seemed like a good idea when I bought them, and packed it all in bags and boxes and into the back of my car. I even dragged out extra pieces of luggage, wiped off the dust, and checked for anything interesting left in the zippered pockets before I added them to my donate pile.
Come Saturday morning, I was up early and anxious to head out to give away my “give aways”. The sense of accomplishment and goodwill put a toothy smile on my face. I felt generous and productive. Liberated, even. The spirit of giving warmed my heart.
The thrift store hadn’t been open long when I pulled into the parking lot and popped the trunk. I loaded my arms with as many bags as I could possibly carry and staggered to the door where I stopped dead in my tracks.
A handwritten sign on the door read, “No donations until January.”
I read it again.
“No donations until January.”
As I stood staring, my feathers fell.
The “No donations until January” policy makes perfect sense. The store is small with no visible storage. Anything that goes through the doors is tagged and put on display for sale posthaste. But I wanted, I needed to unload this stuff today, not carry it around with me for another month. I had been poised to share the overflow of my blessings as a gift to the thrift store and its customers, but my plan was foiled. Saddened, I loaded it all into my car and drove away.
This may sound strange, but as I drove, I began to think about times in my life when I have witnessed gifts not graciously received, or even rejected. By searching your memory, you may recall and episode or two yourself.
I am no innocent. The Christmas I was in 8th grade I opened two sweaters my mom had spent hours shopping for (in a blizzard in heels, she said) and was unable to conceal my horror at her selection of colors and styles. From then on I was allowed to pick out my own clothing gifts. I wore the ugly sweaters anyway, as an apology to my mother for my rude behavior.
For whatever reason, some people have a hard time accepting gifts. Take them flowers and they have allergies and tell you to take them away. Give them something you think they’d like, and they examine it closely and then hand it back to you saying, “I would never use/wear/eat this. You take it.”
And then there’s the “but I didn’t get you anything” scenario. When surprised by a gift, we sometimes feel badly for not having a gift for the giver. Is it any wonder that we think we must earn or buy our salvation?
Common sense tells us if an offer sounds too good to be true, it is.
Except for the free gift of salvation.
The free gift that is Jesus.
He who gave His life that we might be live.
When He walked the earth for 33 years, he was 100% man, yet without sin. Any temptation you have been met with, Jesus experienced as well in his earthly body. Perhaps not in the same scenario, but any pain and anguish you have felt, Jesus experienced suffering equal to or greater.
Jesus knows what it feels like to be rejected.
To have His Gift rejected.
Jesus offers the greatest Gift mankind has ever known.
You can’t put a price tag on It. You can’t put It in a box and wrap It with paper.
You can accept The Gift yourself.
You can’t accept It on behalf of another, but you can tell another person about The Gift.
You can’t hold It in your hands, but you hold It in your soul. Now and forever.
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Lord God, Father of All Creation, thank You for Jesus. We are not worthy but we accept and believe and praise Your Holy Name. Amen.
Photo credit - Cheri Van Sweden-Underwood.