Sunday morning, I got up with a cup of coffee to wrap the shoeboxes in paper. The boy and girl were still sleeping. My mom and I visited about the events yesterday. It brought so much more meaning packing those boxes with the two children. They had such a viewpoint on this act of giving – almost sacred, in a way. It wasn’t just a flippant donation to them, and it made the rest of us catch the excitement this year that might have faded for us as we got older.
We headed to church with Opa while Nonna and Great-grandma stayed home. The kids rode with their precious packages in their laps. We wanted to have time to drop off the boxes before church, but it wasn’t working out that way, much to the boy’s disappointment. But a short explanation helped him to see that we would do the giving right after church. I’m glad we did, because instead of rushing through the process, we took the proper time to digest this act in its entirety.
It started with a fun pre-printed letter provided by Calvary Albuquerque. This church is one of the largest drop off points in Albuquerque. We took the letters over to the coffee shop, bought some hot cocoa and coffee, and the boy and girl set to work filling in the information – their favorite color, name, age, how many siblings they had, and their address in case the recipient of the box decided to write them. They were so focused on the shoebox letter that the hot cocoas remained untouched until they had completed the letters. This mission of giving had truly become the central thing in both of their eyes, and they were ready to see it through with all their little hearts. The girl had some beautiful things to say in her letter. Where the fill-in-the-blank spot said ‘I love Jesus because’ she wrote: ‘Because he paid for all my sins, and He loves me so much. He loves each one of us. And Jesus loves you too, and can save you if you just ask.’
We said some goodbyes to friends at the church on our way en-route to the drop off table. The boy with the shoebox was full of smiles, holding his priceless cargo packed with love. He told a couple people about what we had just accomplished and what was going to happen. And at one point in time, I don’t remember exactly when, he said to me, “Mamma! it feels so cool to give this box to somebody, even if I don’t know them! ‘Cause God knows them!”
And then, the big moment came: time to hand over the heart-felt presents to be taken to their destination. We walked into a calm foyer since the next church service had started and the people coming in and out would wait another 45 minutes. The boy and the girl with the shoeboxes walked up confidently and set their boxes on the table. A few more to-do’s had to be done: the donation money to help with the postage for each box,
And almost last, a prayer for the children who would receive these shoeboxes.
Both the boy and the girl had sweet, sincere requests to God in their prayer: both prayers were centered not on hoping the kids would write them back, or any other selfish motives. They only asked that each of those children would come to have a relationship with Jesus. It was such a powerful ending to all of this, it touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. We’d come to the end of a very special event. And it was time to bring it to a close.
And that is the end of the story. Almost….
As we walked to the car, I said to my dad, “You know, dad, we’ve done this so many times, but this time was different. That boy and girl with those two shoeboxes didn’t just take part in an act of giving. They made this mean so much more. They really took it to another level in the way they were so intent and eternity-minded with every step. It makes me stop and think: how many times do we just go through the ritualistic motions of doing a good thing? What would it look like in our lives if we took every act of giving, every token of Jesus’ love, so whole-heartedly as they just did?”
I’d like to try to remember that. And when I share a song, a meal, a donation, whatever it may be, I want to do it with all my passion and strength and heart. Because it makes a difference. Oh, God can still use all the half-hearted giving that takes place with me at times. But it’s so much more rewarding to be like the boy and girl with the shoeboxes.