De-Scrooged

Scrooge. That old, selfish, stingy hoarder. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the miserly man kept everything to himself to the point of pushing everyone away until a series of ghostly encounters ripped his false security from him. He changed. He gave. And quite magically, everyone wanted to be around him. The taker became a giver. The hoarder released his vice grip. Scrooge got de-Scrooged.

I don’t like to admit it, but I can be a lot like Scrooge, setting my peace on what I have rather than what I give. Enter my six year old son Joseph. He just had a birthday and racked up. Kind friends and family gave him lots of toys and lots of cash. A couple weeks after his birthday, the piggy bank sat at $103.00.

As we entered the Christmas season, our family decided to give gifts to some children who have less than most through a local ministry. Joseph told us after we had already purchased everything for two children that he sensed God wanted us to get gifts for one more child. His mom, Diana, and I talked with him that day about him investing some of his birthday money toward this other child. He recoiled. We left it alone. Three days later, he again said we should provide Christmas for another child. We asked him, a second time, to think about putting some of his money towards it (Now, I was thinking $10 or at most $15). We were hoping he would want to have some of his own “skin in the game” so to speak. As we talked it over this second time, he began to think and pray about what to give. I can still see his face as his eyes got big and a little frightened. He looked at us and said, “I think God’s saying for me to keep just $1.” Diana and I looked at each other instantly smiling, crying a bit, and rejoicing inside at what he had said. Frankly, it sounded like something God would say. Seconds later, he began backtracking. He started arguing, and we weren’t even saying anything! We wanted him to wrestle through this on his own. As we neared bedtime, he had retracted his offer of everything but a dollar. We encouraged him to sleep and pray on it.

The next morning, he got up and was readying himself for school. We asked him again what he felt like he was supposed to do. He dropped his head again and whispered, “God wants everything but a dollar.” $102.00 of $103.00! That morning I saw what sacrificial giving looks like on the face of a six year old. I also saw what it looks like to be de-Scrooged. The fix for taking is giving. The fix for hoarding is letting go. The way to de-Scrooge yourself is to do what Scrooge wouldn’t till it was from frightened from him. Give! Give generously! Give sacrificially!

My wife and I are so proud of our son’s sensitivity to obey God and give so generously. We haven’t stopped bragging on him and to him. As I have looked at my son and back at myself since his generosity, Scrooge’s hold on my own resources became much easier to see. So you know what I did? I went to the checkbook prying that old miser’s grip on my own money. Do you know, it sure did feel good in that moment to be de-Scrooged! And I have a little generous giver by the name of Joseph to thank.

Mercy Raindrops?

“What if your mercies come through raindrops.” That’s a question Laura Story asks in her popular song, “Blessings.” Sometimes God’s blessings take on unique forms. I was out driving the other night, in the pouring rain, and my car quit working. Stopped. Died in the middle of the road. As I was getting in touch with AAA, a kind Good Samaritan stopped and helped me get the car off the road and also managed to help get it started again. Then, he followed me while I drove it down to a local auto repair shop. As I was pulling in, it died again. The nice guy proceeded to take me home.

A number of things went wrong. But so many more could have. My family could have been in the car with me when it died, but they weren’t. It could have locked up on me while on the interstate, very likely causing an accident, but it didn’t. It could have happened hours away from home on a trip, but it happened only minutes away. A car could have been right behind me when my car cut off, causing a wreck, but no one was there immediately behind me. The passerby who helped me could have passed on by, but he stopped. The car could have quit on me again in the road rather than the repair shop, but it got me just there.

Turns out, I got a little wet in the rain and the Good Samaritan got home a bit later than usual. And the car? A battery bracket worked loose and shorted the battery out. What I was thinking could be a rather extensive and expensive repair only ended up requiring a tightened bolt and a new battery.

It occurred to me: if my car hadn’t quit, I never would have realized all those bad outcomes that could have happened or experienced the good ones that did. “Mercy raindrops”? God sends those. Dead car deliverances? God’s in that business too. He’s also been known to tamper with battery brackets. Keep your eyes open. God may just send you your very own, specially designed strange blessing. And if he does, why don’t you thank him for it.