What would you say if someone you barely knew gave you a present, for no reason whatsoever?
Would you smile at them with unconcealed joy and gratitude, truly grateful for the thoughtful act? Politely say thank you and find a place for the gift amongst your large collection of material possessions? Would you stare at them in bewilderment, and then ask if they had previously suffered a head injury?
Would your response be different depending on the gift given?
What if you got a pack of staples? What about a new television? A car? What about a brand new life?
What would you do if someone asked you to give someone else, that you barely knew, a gift; A brand new, shiny, material possession that you full well intended to keep for yourself? How long would it take you to decide whether or not the person was worth the effort, whether or not they were worth you being inconvenienced? What if you hated the person, and couldn’t stand being in the same room as them. What it they were your best friend?
I was faced with a test of character today; I had just finished my chemistry class, and was walking to the Student Union Building on campus to withdraw money from my bank account (money sure goes fast when you’re in university!), when I saw a set of displays lined up with posters on them. I decided I might as well take a look at a few; even though my walls were already adorned, a dorm room can never have too many posters. After sifting through hundreds of posters, for both myself and some close friends of mine (please note the emphasis on close here), I returned to my room, and realized that I had not purchased one for a girl that I met in class. “Now this is a strange”, I thought to myself, “I don’t even know this girl”. I thought of turning back to get her something, but I decided against it because I had other plans with a friend, and the walk back to the Student Union Building was a good distance away. Then I had another thought, why not give her one of my own. Which one might you ask?
The nicest, largest, most thoughtful one.
My response to this thought was as followed: “Hmm, I must not have had enough sleep last night, I sound delusional; I really don’t know this girl. What if she doesn’t even appreciate it? This is so strange. Maybe I’m just hungry? I should go eat, I’m sure I’ll think better of it once I have some food in my stomach.”
So I went to eat, returned to my dorm room and realized that this was not a delusion, it was a commandment from God. I then proceeded to question God inside my head for a few minutes, in complete perplexity. “What do you mean I should give her my poster? I just bought that poster with the money I was suppose to withdraw from the ATM machine. This is ridiculous! She might not even like it!”
After much deliberation, and hesitation, I finally decided to give this girl the poster before class. I ceremoniously hit her on the head with it (partially to get her attention, and partially as a way to express my bewildered frustration), and then announced, quite frankly that I had bought her the poster because her “walls may be bare.”
I then sat beside her, and listened to her remarks, in an oh-so-casual, ‘I don’t really care, I just bought it for you. Excuse me, while I eat this muffin, and stare indifferently at the wall opposite to us.’
But I did care, a lot.
I really liked that poster. And that’s when it hit me. How horrible was it that I couldn’t even give up one lousy poster for someone else, regardless of whether or not they appreciated it? If I couldn’t even bare to part with something so trivial, imagine all the other things I would refuse to sacrifice in order to help or bless someone else.
I thought about the gift I had been given, that my roommate didn’t know about, the love of God. I thought of the sacrifice that she could never understand, the cost that she couldn’t grasp, and I realized that Jesus didn’t come to Earth just for the people who embraced Him with open arms, and who jumped for joy when they heard that He had come with the gift of salvation, He came for the people who stared at him in bewilderment, with a look of confusion on their face, the ones who weren’t exactly sure what to say, and the ones who said nothing at all, who just chucked the gift into a pile of other “worthless” things.
It didn’t matter that this girl didn’t know that that poster cost me all of ten dollars (about equivalent to thirty dollars for a university student), that I was on a strict budget, or that I had grand plans of adorning my bedroom wall at home with that poster. It didn’t matter because she could never comprehend its worth; like a sinner, a normal person, who had never been to church before in their life, and only knew Jesus as ‘that cool hippie’, could never understand the price Jesus paid on the cross.
It’s because true understanding comes with revelation, and revelation comes from God.
So now, you may ask if I decided to pray and ask God to provide her with revelation of how important that gesture was, but I didn’t. Instead I sat down, and I wrote this. And in my heart, I’m praying that instead of a revelation of the beauty of a poster, she’ll have the revelation of the beauty of an unrelenting, all-consuming love, and a true understanding of its worth.
Michee Hamilton, VBD Contributor