The Way God Gives

About a week before Christmas I sent Joel on a mission to find me a long, warm winter coat for Christmas. The catch–don’t spend more than $50! “We may not be up here that many more winters,” I assured him. “So don’t spend a lot of money on a coat I won’t use for that long.” In an effort to help him get a picture in his head of what kind of coat I was looking for I added, “Something like the coat Shar (a good friend from church) wears.”

On Christmas Eve Joel admitted rather glumly to me that he had failed on his mission, so not to expect a coat for Christmas. That evening we took my sister Tammy, her son John and my mom and dad to enjoy a wonderful Christmas Eve service with our church friends . After the service I introduced Tammy to Shar. We were enjoying a brief chat when Joel piped up and said to Shar, regal in her long maroon coat, “My wife sent me on a mission to find a coat like yours for Christmas, but I failed. I couldn’t find anything like that.”

Shar laughed and commented on the expense of coats. She went on to explain the quality of her coat–light weight but so thermal it is good up to 20 below. Knowing I would get a rise out of her, I quickly inserted, “Oh, no, I only wanted a cheap coat. I’m not going to be here long enough to pay a lot for a winter coat!”

“Oh, we’ll see!” She shot back. “I may have to get you a winter coat because you’re not going anywhere for a long time!” We all had a good laugh and after merry wishes all around headed for home.

It was 10:30 on Christmas morning when the door bell rang. Now who could that be? I wondered. My first thought was Joel’s PO because he randomly stops by to check on Joel. No matter, I told myself. I‘ll invite him in for coffee and cookies.But when I got to the door I was stunned to see Shar standing there. She held in her hands a  box complete with shipping label.

“Joel, I need to thank you for what you said last night.” She said looking past me to Joel in the back of the room. “And Tabitha,” she said, turning back to me and  holding out the box, “You need to understand that you are never leaving Wisconsin!” I knew then what was in the box. And while I’m not quite set on the “never leaving” part, I am ecstatic to be warm for however long we are here.  But how could she have ordered and received a coat in less than 24 hours on Christmas?

The best gift was yet to come as Shar shared the background behind her gift. “About a week ago, I ordered a duplicate of my coat. I didn’t know why or who it was for. A lot of my friends admire my coat. I wasn’t sure why I was ordering it. But I prayed that God would show me. I have been really asking Him lately to let me hear His voice and know it is Him that is speaking to me. So you need to know that this is His Christmas gift to me. I heard Him speak to me last night, Joel when you said what you did, and I knew who the coat was for. I knew God had me order it to give to you, Tabitha.  It’s my blessing, my answer to prayer. This is my gift from God.”

My heart has been pondering the way God gives ever since that moment. Cozy and warm each time I step out of my house into the “winter wonderland” of freezing Wisconsin, I am struck with the precious bounty of His hand. But I am also warmed deep in my soul as I meditate on the amazing truth that the way God gives is both multi-directional and extravagant; it comes in both the giving and the receiving; and it always turns our hearts back to the most extravagant of all God’s gifts–Himself.

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