You Just Never Know!
When I shared the 12 Days of Christmas list at our Women’s Christmas party this year at church, the hope was that some of the ladies – if not all – would be challenged to stretch themselves and spread a bit of extra Christmas joy and hope during the days leading up to Christmas. What I didn’t expect was the ripple effect of that simple challenge.
Without originally intending to ‘copycat’ and reuse the 12 Days of Christ list (see December 11th's post below), I found myself incorporating it into a Sunday School lesson for my middle schoolers the following week. It was a good exercise in faith for them and brought some interesting reactions. One gal wasn’t challenged at all with the ‘pay it forward’ option (paying for someone behind you in line) as she said “We always do that!” This same gal remarked on the suggestion of gifting your mail carrier or bank teller with a token of appreciation - with the same comment. In fact, she was confused as to why these actions were even on the list. After all, she wondered, “Doesn’t everyone do that all that time anyway?” Remarkably, she learned that the grandma who is raising her was teaching her some invaluable lessons in life - and generosity. Her peers learned that others were sharing in this way “all the time” while they had never even considered these opportunities to sharing God’s love.
Sweetly, another young man was concerned by the concept of helping a “stranger.” Uh oh! I hadn’t considered how an adult woman would process that thought versus a 6th grade boy. We quickly talked through doing good deeds to those we don’t know (strangers), and how that can safely be done – while not compromising his parents cautions toward associating with strangers. Whew! A simple exercise in giving got challenging real quick when adapting the list from adults to teens. It was a good exercise for me and the kids. It gave us all a great opportunity to take the spirit of the Christmas story and consider how we can share God’s love with others in our daily lives. The hard part, of course, is the follow through!
A couple Sundays later in the month, I had the opportunity to brag on the two students who I spoke off above to their respective grandma and mom. Both ladies were excited to hear of their child’s participation in class and how God was using the 12 Days of Christmas list to challenge their families. In fact, the one grandma said that she had made copies of the list and put it on her desk at work. With no solicitation of it, she had many people ask her if they could take a copy. She gladly shared this Christmas challenge and made even more copies to share around.
It makes me wonder where God led this ripple effect. How many people were encouraged by this simple list? Whose life was changed by someone sharing an unexpected gift or a simple prayer with them this year? Whose personal worship life was encouraged this Christmas and was better able to “keep Christ in Christmas”?
God takes our small tokens of worship and encouragement and often multiples those results a hundred fold and more. He just asks us to take the first step each day to share His love with those around us. Now, as we’ve already entered the new year, it makes me wonder where God will lead me to shine for Him this year. How about you?
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21