Forget the Tricks

My children’s reaction bewildered me. Here I was with two bags full of goodies and they were shocked to see me bring them home. Is that not what a caring daddy should do?

After years of involvement with the successful Boise State University football team as its motivational speaker, I was selected as the 2003 Homecoming Grand Marshal. When I arrived where the parade was starting I was given, with no instructions, two bags with lots of candies, mugs, towels and all kinds of things with BSU logos. Someone handed me a small flag and told me to wave it to the crowds lining the downtown route of the Homecoming procession.

The first official duty as the Grand Marshal was to judge floats and stands. I was then taken to a waiting convertible  that had magnetic posters on both sides with the inscription “BoiseState Grand Marshal: Dr. Vincent Kituku.” After I sat on an elevated seat, the procession started. I waved the flag but the crowds never got anything from my two bags.  I carried those bags to a later event where I gave a brief presentation to a gathering of BSU professors, coaches, students, parents, and alumni. And then I took my bounty home.

For years I lived with shame after my children told me that I was supposed to throw the goodies in the bags to the children standing along the parade route. My comfort came from the knowledge that in Kangundo, Kenya, we didn’t have such festivities.

The sad story is that millions of people are created with tremendous talents, have great gifts, and are blessed with material resources that they keep to themselves. Those people never experience the joy, fulfillment, and sense of self-worth that come from sharing what we have with others.

When is the last time you visited or called someone who needed comfort? When was the last time you volunteered in a humanitarian program? When was the last time you coached someone who couldn’t compensate you for your time? When was the last time you made a donation to help alleviate someone else’s pain or hopelessness?

If you are not involved in helping other people, you are carrying more than two bags. There is no moment in life when there is nobody who cannot benefit from your blessings of talents, gifts, and resources. Some of the people in need are our own parents, relatives, and neighbors.  Others are in foreign lands where one meal or medication that costs pennies can be the difference between death and life.

I received no instructions about what to do with my two bags of goodies; but the word of God provides us with instructions on sharing the blessings that have been bestowed on us. Isaiah 58:7-9 presents a clear picture of what we need to do—sharing our “food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.”

Here is the promise. “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

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