The Gift Of Giving (Gary’s Story)

Perhaps you have stopped at a fast food restaurant and  gone through the drive thru, or you have stopped at a toll booth only to discover someone has “paid it forward” as the clerk cheerfully tells you “The car ahead of you paid for yours”.   It’s a surprising feeling isn’t it; experiencing someone else’s generosity?  Perhaps for some of us, it’s a little humbling.  For others it reinforces the need to give back.

bucket3The gift of giving truly is the meaning of Christmas.
We stop to recognize the ultimate gift that was given to humanity – Christ Jesus.  Perhaps in some small way we can give back to our communities and to specific people.  Giving isn’t always natural…sometimes it needs to be forced, sometimes we need a little convincing.

There is no need to convince Gary though, he has been giving to our Red Campaign this Christmas season in a manner of his time and talent.   Gary has been bell ringing for The Salvation Army of Evansville for as much time as he can give this year.  Some days, it is a whole day’s shift from 10 am in the morning, until it gets dark outside. He has been vigilant, dependable and a constant feature at one of our Walmart locations.   Every evening when the red kettle driver picks up Gary’s bucket, you can rest assured it is a full bucket of much needed funds.  bucket2

There is something else about Gary you should know, other than his generosity of time and talent.   For those two vital assets alone are truly commendable and honorable.  But there’s something more about Gary – something that would shake the very fabric of our lives and quake us to the core and make us evaluate everything that we hold dear and consider important in life – Gary has terminal Leukemia.

His doctors have given him roughly nine months to live.  He could be doing anything with his precious time that he has left.  He could be crossing off things on his bucket list, and perhaps he is.  He could have gone home and wallowed in self-pity – no one would have blamed him.  Yet, Gary is paying it forward in such a way that lives will be touched and changed.  Gary is so much more than just a bell ringer at yet another red kettle campaign.  Gary is giving more than just another few hours at a random kettle location.  Gary is giving of himself.  This is his gift.  This is his moment to shine.
bucket4.jpg
I wonder if we’re all capable of giving as Gary is giving today?
I wonder if we could simply give without terms or conditions, and just give of ourselves regardless of the circumstances of our lives?  I recognize that life isn’t always perfect, I’m also pretty sure there has never been any promises that life is fair and perfect from the start.  Many of us have bruises and scars to prove just how unfair and imperfect life can truly be.
BUT the gift of giving truly MUST transcend our circumstances and conditions.  We shouldn’t ever say “well I couldn’t give because the moment just wasn’t right…” well, let me ask you when will the moment ever be right?    (and I’m speaking to myself right now) We can’t continue to make excuses in life – it doesn’t matter where we’ve been or the hurts we’ve endured – how we come out of those moments truly will define us.

Gary is testament to a defying circumstances.
He has touched my heart in a way that I am forever changed.
His gift is so much more than eight hours out at a Salvation Army kettle stand.  Despite his circumstances, Gary is displaying what living life should look like.

Do you have time to give?   Then give it.
Do you have talents to give?  Then give it.
Do you have treasure to give?  Then give it.
Don’t make excuses, don’t hold back, don’t squander it or hoard it.
Our gifts come in many shapes and sizes…what we do with these gifts matters!

Something more to ponder today.

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