Have you ever received a gift from someone that became a super special treasure – but the giver didn’t know it, and neither did you? That’s what we’re going to talk about today. I didn’t realized how special a gift I received would be over the years after it was given to me. But to this day, I really like “The Fan!”
Let me tell you the story of the fan. Way back when I was a young adult, some missionaries came “home” to the USA from their field of service. For some reason (I don’t recall it), Mrs. Missionary and I met in their temporary apartment. If I had to guess why I was spending time with this more seasoned person, it was likely that I had admired her from afar. She had lovely character. Plus she was really pretty. And – she invited me!
Anyway, we had a lovely conversation – best I remember. I believe she provided refreshments which she’d made in their tiny kitchenette behind a half wall.
I remember commenting on a gorgeous, large wicker fan displayed above their loaned couch. It was almost 4 feet wide, about 2 feet high, and had a very attractive weave design. Mrs. Missionary had skillfully woven it with pretty silk flowers. I just loved it and complimented her.
The Fan Surprise
You can imagine my surprise – actually, shock was more like it – when Mrs. Missionary offered the fan to me! That was an easy answer for me – “Oh yes!” They were leaving to go back to the field and couldn’t take everything with them. I’m guessing she had wondered what to do with it, and prayerfully realized her answer was me!
Upon delicately taking the fan off the wall, which then looked bare, I thought I’d fallen into the best bargain of the year! Totally unexpected. It was so delicate, I handled it careful. Because it was so large, I had to walk through the door sideways. And then all the way home, I guarded my new gift.
I thanked the Lord for this beautiful decoration, not ever realizing how it would go with me through decades of my life. And I would always trace its origins to the small wall in a temporary apartment above a loaned couch, kindness of Mrs. Missionary.
The Fan Changed
When I got home, I immediately made plans to integrate the fan into my home decor. The colors and presentation became my little dream. I also used silk flowers of a different color. The fan now reflected my own home, the wall it graced, and the room it adorned. I gratefully remembered Mrs. Missionary who cared enough to share something with me from her home.
There followed lots of moves over the years. Yes, this lovely fan changed presentation over the course of young family living, reflecting new colors and themes of the room it occupied. Always it brought compliments. And always I felt proud of it – thankful for Mrs. Missionary’s kindness.
I want to talk about Mrs. Missionary for a minute. Did you notice the flavor around her as I described her. This woman gave me more than a fan. She gave me a peek into admirable character.
- First, she invited me to her temporary apartment. It was a pit stop for them. Still, she shared it with me.
- Second, I saw how she made this temporary dwelling a lovely home with what she had.
- Third, she engaged conversation meaningful to me, the younger adult, even though she didn’t know me well.
- Fourth, she gave me food and drink from a limited storehouse of a very tiny kitchenette.
- Fifth, she shared from her meager home decor without feeling any loss. Apparently, she had given everything up to the Lord, so it was easier to part with things, say “good-byes,” and live in temporary, continually-changing circumstances.
Mrs. Missionary had the aroma of Christ. (2 Cor. 2:15)
What I Learned From Mrs. Missionary
So, what is the take-away from this woman who gave me her fan? I learned several things from that short, one-time visit:
- Hold material things, including homes, with an open hand.
- Be quick to share what you have with others.
- Whatever circumstances you have, be content and grateful, even if it’s temporary.
- Bring color, creativity, beauty into your life and home through little things around you, even if it’s temporary.
- Put people first. Engage them in meaningful conversation and value what God is doing in their life.
- Serve others genuinely and generously with what you have, because their life is valuable to God.
- Remember to pray for others who have invested in your life or given gifts to you.
- Work to be like these “mini-mentors” God provides on your life journey, even if it’s a one-time event.
What Am I Telling You?
As I share this story from many years ago, what am I trying to say as I reflect on my gift – the fan?
Well, besides the special lessons I learned from Mrs. Missionary, I also want to mention three more things about gifts.
I learned how important it is to value the generosity of others. This was a beginning training lesson God was teaching me about valuing what people bring to life – big or small. Very much like how Jesus valued the five loaves and two fishes a little boy gave Him. I bet that little boy felt like a million bucks! He saw Jesus feed over 5000 people with his little lunch from his mom’s tiny kitchenette. And he knew he had a part in that miracle. Jesus was excited about this little boy’s gift, and so was the little boy! That event was so special to God, He designated a descent portion of Scripture to tell the story through all centuries. (Jn. 6:3-13)
I saw it was important to have quality character to share what you have with others. Have you noticed the crises around the globe? Never should people be hungry in today’s world – especially as many as are hungry now. Never should people have little to no clothing or medical supplies for their needs. And never should they not have heard the name of Jesus! Are you aware of lonely or needy people around you? What about those who are depressed or discouraged?
The Lord challenged me to be satisfied with what I have, even in seasons of limited resources of young family living. The training to take what I have and “beautify it” for God’s glory – and as a statement of contentment in my circumstances – was a valuable learning point I’ve taken forward with me.
So, what am I telling you? I guess simply what God and Mrs. Missionary taught me. And I should follow their example.
But It Doesn’t End Here
I’m also saying it doesn’t end here. This isn’t really just about getting gifts – like the fan – and being grateful. It isn’t just about serving others and meeting their needs. This is about being like God.
Jesus said, “Be perfect like our Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:48) He defines our Father as the “Giver of good gifts.” (Jas. 1:17) Our Heavenly Father is good to all, blessing sinners and saints alike with sun, rain, and harvest. He is deeply compassionate to those locked into difficult circumstances. Our Heavenly Father loves every person no matter who they are or what their situation. God is way too good to us all. Are you like Him? Are you reaching to others around the world?
God’s goodness climaxes in His incredible gift of His Son. It blows my mind that God even became a human! That He will remain human forever – like you and me – is unfathomable. Isn’t it just amazing that God loves us so much, He wants to identify with us forever? To be one of us through eternity?
And none of us deserves this special gift from God. It’s a life-changing gift – a big surprise, undeserved – given from a heart of kindness.
Application Questions and Thoughts
- Do you strive to have kindness of heart God displays toward others? Toward yourself?
- In what ways can you be more like Mrs. Missionary? Be specific.
- Are you overflowing with gratitude for blessings in your life? Blessings are co-travelers with trials. Have you listed your blessings? Do you focus on them? Or do you concentrate on your trials?
- Perhaps instead of feeling frustrated and limited by your circumstances, look for God in each detail. How does He want you to connect with Him? What about presenting an impression of Jesus on another person by adopting the high functioning spirit of Christ?
- Is your response to others filled with the grace and sacrifice that sent Jesus to the cross as He intercepted God’s righteous anger?
- What do you need to eliminate in your assumptions about others?
May you be richly blessed as you pursue the lovely, sweet aroma of Christ in all your dealings with others. And may you be a Mr. or Mrs. Missionary kind-of-person that leaves a permanent testimony of Jesus.
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