Used Gifts


Used Gifts

My brother Tom never grew up.  Unfortunately, for all of the rest of us, he didn’t grow old either; he died of a heart attack at just age 48.  But, even if the Lord had granted him more years here on earth, I am convinced that Tom would have retained his little boy nature.  I've been thinking about Tom lately as his birthday is coming up soon.

I was the youngest of seven and there was a big age gap between my older siblings and me.  I can recall one time when Tom was home on leave from the Army that he and I played with his old Fort Apache set for an entire morning.  He formally gave me the set that morning.  Even though I had already been playing with the set for years, I couldn’t have been more excited that it was now my very own, and not just something that he had outgrown and left behind.

Several years later I was getting some Christmas decorations out of the attic for my mother when I saw a big box that was opened.  It was a Rat Patrol army set with dozens of soldiers, tanks, and jeeps.  I was surprised when on Christmas morning I opened a big present from Tom and it was the Rat Patrol set I had seen in the attic.  I was excited and confused.  I told Tom that I didn’t think it was for me because I had seen it the week before in the attic and it was opened.  He laughed, “Well, I had to play with it first to make sure it was going to be as fun for you as I thought it would be!”

Several years later Tom relocated with his own family to Murphysboro, in the very southern tip of Illinois, and so we never saw him on Christmas Day again.  But he always sent a big box of presents for us to open up.  I remember the last gift he sent to my parents before my mother passed away.  It was an ice cream maker.  Packed in with all of the parts and the book of instructions was an ice cream bowl complete with dried up chocolate ice cream in the bottom of it and a dirty spoon.  We laughed.  Of course, Tom had to make sure that the ice cream that the contraption made would be delicious before he sent it!

To some reading this no doubt, Tom sounds like he was a little quirky.  But there is much to be said for someone who never gave a gift that he wouldn’t have wanted for his own.  Somehow if you knew that he had already seen the magic in the gift, you knew that you too would find the magic in it. 

God is a like my brother Tom.  He doesn’t want something shiny and new from us.  In fact, the more used it is, the better.  He wants something that you have already seen and felt the magic in, because he has already seen and felt the magic in it.  He is hoping that the gift you have brought him is your heart.  Even though he has been living in it for years, he will be so excited to know that now you want him to have it for his very own, and it’s not just something that you have outgrown and left behind.

His Peace <><

Deacon Dan        

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash