I like gifts. Who doesn’t? So much can be said about them. They come in many different shapes and sizes, given with various intentions and sometimes are handed over with expectations of return. They keep us guessing, hoping and shaking for clues. They might fill our needs and maybe our deep desires. They can also be disappointing and even downright offensive. (I hope you didn’t experience any of the latter this year.)
I want to tell you about a gift I received on December 23rd, exactly one week ago. It came from a dear friend. This gift was costly, yet looking at it, it would appear as one of the most trivial. It came in an unusual way. You could say the wrapping was void of any human traces, was modulated and computer generated. Yet, I will never forget this gift as long as I live. It will be in my heart as a reminder of all what it means to be human.
It was late afternoon and I was sitting in my car in the driveway. The sun was setting, pushing an orange glow through the pines behind the house. It was a great place for a phone conversation to connect with my friends. She had texted me to see if it was ok to call. We talked about the kids and Jesus, about the weather and about the pains of this world. We took time to remind each other of the precious things in this life. Her husband was with her and our conversation was on speaker phone.
“Heidi, he wants to say something to you.” I paused. I knew he needed time to type on his retinal recognition device, so the computer could generate his letters, turning each single one of them from text to voice.
Then those synthesized words made their way to my heart.
“I love you, Heidi.”
I cried. I knew it could very well be the last time I would hear him.
It was the last time. He went home today. After twenty-three years of ALS ravaging his body, Bill crossed the finish line. For nearly twenty years he was unable to walk and move, yet his gift of faith moved many toward the Hope of Heaven. He was unable to speak for two decades, yet spoke to thousands by typing one single letter at a time. Bill knew his limits and shortcomings, yet trusted God with the gift of each day. God filled the void and through Bill’s weakness, shone His Light. Bill had the ability to make people know how much Jesus loved them. I felt it. I knew it better because of Bill. For this I am eternally grateful and forever changed.
Jesus gifted Himself in the most unusual way. God wrapped His message of Love in a frail, human body and tied it up with few dingy rags. Then He placed it all in dilapidated manger. Jesus translated God’s eternal message of Love for us into our broken so we could hear it. God’s Love shone in the temporary and fading so we could hear and see the eternal.
“I LOVE YOU, WORLD.”
(see John 3:16)
Thank you, Mary, for your example of God’s love by serving Bill for all those years. Because of your faithfulness, many people (including me) benefitted from his friendship. Your love for Bill and perseverance in this unimaginable, long trial are witness of Jesus’ love on earth.