October 23, 2013
I had some misplaced priorities. I suppose at some level I'd known it for some time. But I didn't fully recognize how misplaced they were until I took a trip to El Salvador with a Christian humanitarian organization.
I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where their family of five rested at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.
I'd come to offer gifts of detergent and food. But the children's gifts exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine. They filled my hands with selfless love. Love shared in smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.
Feeling too shy to hand me the bracelet herself, the girl nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and slid it gently on my wrist. I declare, diamonds couldn't match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.
The next morning as I was getting dressed, I felt a nudge. Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.
You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. It was one my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.
How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I'd spot a mama to whom I would give my bracelet. Then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my treasures.
And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.
I'm embarrassed ... heartbroken. I'm sad to say I couldn't give it away. Couldn't? No; more like I wouldn't. Both bracelets journeyed back home with me. One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.
I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice. Little did I know, I was the one in need. I needed God's mercy. I needed a new perspective. I don't want possessions if I'm not willing to use them to love others.
I needed the one thing I lacked ... more love for the Lord than for my possessions. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than it did to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, "Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." A simple request, yet so difficult to follow.
I don't want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I'm giving it all. I'm starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?
Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. Thank You for new mercies, second chances, and a heart capable of responding to Your prompting. Help me to respond to Your prompting this day. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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You need more love for the Lord than for your possessions.
You can choose each day to bear selflessness or selfishness. Why is it sometimes easier to hold more tightly to earthy possessions?
Set up a time to volunteer with those who have less than you to help gain perspective on what's important.
Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.