I had offered to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army’s Christmas drive. I bundled up and trekked to my station at the local grocery store. I donned the blue apron and picked up the emblem of my assignment, a small golden bell.
Then one by one the people came up to the little red bucket dropping in the change or dollars. Sometimes people felt like talking. Other times, they nodded and left. Still others dropped their gift and scurried off to complete the sundry other tasks the season required of them.
“I brought you here to teach you something,” the Spirit said to my heart. Not to be so quick to volunteer?
“No. I want you to study these people. Examine the way they give.”
And, I did. To my amazement, I learned the reasons for giving are as varied as the people who donate. Then I began to see similarities in people’s motivation. And, I wondered where my heart would fit among theirs.
The first lady gave from her sorrow. This was her first Christmas without her mother. Her father had passed away only a year before. Eyes brimming with tears, she pushed twenty dollars into the bucket. “My mother was a bell ringer,” she said. “Thank you for doing this.” Then she rushed off, uncomfortable with her emotions.
The Spirit spoke again: He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering (Isaiah 52:3).
The next person gave from his abundance. His leather jacket and bulging wallet told all. He plopped a den-dollar bill into the bucket, pleased with his generosity. He straightened his shoulders with pride in his offering and left.
The Spirit spoke again: From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded: and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48).
An elderly woman approached. Her threadbare coat and raveled scarf told of her station in life. Her cart also bore testament to her poverty. She stopped before the red canister, pulled out a thin and worn wallet from her purse, and dropped in her last two coins. “Maybe this will bring me good fortune,” she said. She gave from her need, as if investing into generosity would bring better days.
The Spirit spoke yet again: And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
Another elderly woman stopped by the kettle. Her head drooped from her heavy burden. She shrugged her shoulders then reached into her purse for an assortment of change. “I feel guilty if I pass by one of these drums and give nothing.” She trotted off, head slightly higher. Her giving well was a fountain of guilt.
The Spirit spoke anew: For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me (Psalm 51:3).
Lastly, a young man eagerly approached the drum, much akin to Tiger’s Happy Bounce, and tossed his coins with a whistle. “I love this!” he said as he sailed out the door. “God’s been good to me. This is one way I can say, ‘Thank you.’” The young man gave from a spirit of gratitude.
The Spirit spoke once more than fell silent: Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (1 Corinthians 9:7).
Then I knew what the Spirit wanted me to learn. Christmas is a time for giving. I analyzed my own motivations. Do I give begrudgingly because it’s expected? Do I donate from a feeling of loss? Do I thrive on the hope one day my giving will be multiplied? Do I fear what will happen if I do not give? I hope that from this day on my giving will be from a grateful heart to a Savior who came as the atonement for my sins.
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight), LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of redemption and God’s mercies. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.
Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com.
Her second book, America II: The Reformation, Trestle Press, the first in a dystopian trilogy, is a futuristic political thriller now available in ebook on Amazon.com and Kobo. Also with Trestle Press is her serial story, Rains of Terror which can be found on Amazon.Com., Barnes and Noble, and Kobo or wherever ebooks are sold.
Linda’s highly successful Christmas Adirondack romance , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is available through Amazon.com, published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas.
Her first devotional book, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children is due for release on or about December 10 by Trestle Press/Helping Hands.