Good morning friends………….the framework of this story is set in the barebones of a true-life tale shared with me about a little girl and her response to a surprise giftcard in the mail. I took it, added some twists, a big bit of creative license and sketched out this story of grace. I tell it in first person, but it is not me or my daughter, though I did add pieces of our personalities. I share it with you today.
She skips down the lane, braids flying high above her shoulders with each hop. I can hear her flip-flops bounce on the gravel and flip up against the bottom of her feet.
She’s singing. So often, singing. If not singing, chattering. To herself. To her dolls. To whoever will lend an ear to listen. I smile to myself. “Do you want to build a snowman?” The words and notes of a favorite Disney song float up the lane on the air.
I step back inside and towards the waiting dishes.
Soon, I hear her excited clattering as the door opens and she arrives in the kitchen in an excited whirl of braids, words and mail. Her sides heave and she gasps out an unintelligible sentence. Flat-out running replaced her skipping in the hurry to deliver her news.
There’s an envelope with her name looped onto the front!! Her eyes shine and she wriggles and hops up and down, the thrill of it too much. The energy must come out somehow.
“Open it!” I laugh teasingly.
She hops onto the stool, turning the letter over. A black and white penguin sticker is pressed firmly in place smiling up from the envelope flap. She smiles back and carefully peels him away. Finding an edge willing to give, she rips it open and pulls out the card inside. A pile of fluffy kittens purr from the front of the card. You can almost reach into the picture and pet them.
Flipping the card open, something falls into her lap. She peers at it and picks it up. “What is it?” she whispers wonderingly. Looking closer she realizes it’s a Sonic giftcard loaded with ten whole dollars!!!
Her mouth rounds in amazement and she glances at me, then back at the unexpected treasure. She smooths her fingers across it and gives a happy little cry of delight.
I smile simply in the watching her.
Then she looks up at me again and her brow furrows. “What did I do to deserve this?” she asks in puzzled wonderment.
I laugh and tell her, “You’re friend just likes to add happy surprises to someone’s day.” I pause and add, “You didn’t have to do anything. She’s just sharing it with you because you’re you.”
She processes this a bit and then claps her hand and begins to chatter about limeades and wings and cheddar bites.
She takes a sip of water and bustles off to place the giftcard in her favorite orange wallet.
I slip onto the empty stool and rest my chin on my hands and I think about her face and her words.
“What did I do to deserve this?”
Isn’t that the question?
What did any of us do to deserve any of the good and wonderful and beautiful things in life?
Because if we’re truthful, most days we can see the wretchedness in us that wants so much to push away any seeds and blooms of good and take over like ugly, bullying weeds do.
What did I do to deserve a roof over my head, much less a fistful of gift cards in my wallet?
What did I do to deserve this daily bread I find in the drawer, this medley of veggies in the fridge, this container of chocolate chip cookies on the counter?
What did I do to deserve this collection of Bibles on my shelf?
Hot water flowing from my faucet? Shoes in my closet…..how many pairs, I can’t say.
Why do I have ice cubes AND fresh water when a half a globe away, Sitina walks a half mile to fetch water…..and it isn’t in a condition fitting of the label “Fresh”?
Cans line my pantry shelf and fresh milk is only a drive-to-the-store away.
Why do I get to pull through Sonic and order a drink at happy hour or pour hot coffee in my mug in the mornings?
What did I do to deserve grace?
What did I do to deserve this gift of Jesus?
This glorious, magnificent privilege of growing up in a family who knows and loves the Word of the Lord?
Nothing. I did nothing. I have no resume, no list like Paul, no long list of references, nothing I can offer to argue “I Deserve This.”
I never want to fall into living entitled.
I don’t want to lose the child-like wonder, the round eyes of surprise, the question of “What did I do to deserve this?”
I find myself crossing over at times. Feeling sorry for myself. Feeling I didn’t deserve this thing I’ve been dealt or I really did deserve that thing I didn’t get. Allowing discontentment to ruin the array of wonder rippling through my life.
I want to live fully centered in the giftcard of grace my Savior has available for each and every person willing to receive.
And friend, THAT, is an unfathomable amount of gifts and grace!