Thursday, December 14, 2017

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS (Is a Generous Heart)

ALL I WANT
FOR CHRISTMAS
(Is a Generous Heart)
_________________________

The words are biblical  from
Jesus himself. However, the
simple and pure message is
one everybody knows. In fact,
even some of the most hard-
hearted ogres subscribe to the
sentiment: It is more blessed
to give than to receive. 
_________________________

"Excuse me, sir. Do you work at this plaza?"

It was a warm Florida night, as this holiday season was revving up — and it was particularly dark out behind the shopping center. I was running late, prepping for my DJ shift at a nightclub tucked inside the strip plaza. In NO mood for nonsense or interruptions, I was approached by a young man on a bicycle as I retrieved my laptop from the front seat of my car, parked out behind the club. Having prefaced this engagement with, "sir," I knew the 20-something was ramping up to ask for money. Oddly, he wasn't. "I haven't eaten in days," he continued. "If your place of employment has a kitchen, could you please give me a slice of bread?" A slice of bread? Really? Clearly, this fella wasn't one of the area's resident panhandlers. The man was merely hungry  and desperate.

I was so moved by his seemingly honest transparency and genuine need, I couldn't just give him the standard, "Here's a buck, now go away donation." I only had a little cash on me, but I felt compelled to give him what I had. My newfound friend was so overwhelmed with gratitude, I thought he was gonna burst into tears, as I slipped him two crisp five-dollar bills. And I quickly pointed out a couple of nearby eateries where he could maximize his $10 budget.

I'll wager a bet that we've ALL "visited" places of need at some point during our lives — I sure have. And I recognize completely the comfort from receiving a "hug" — when it's needed most. As a result, I possibly felt blessed more by giving than my buddy did by receiving. The only problem was, I now wouldn't have enough on-hand scratch for gas to get home. Oddly, my tip jar overflowed literally that night — nearly $100. Funny how the generosity thing works sometimes.

_________________________

...You should remember the words
of the Lord Jesus: "It is more
blessed to give than to receive."
Acts 20:35 (NLT) 
_________________________

A few nights later, I was approached by another guy, this time in the parking lot of my local Zip-E-Mart as I was scoring a couple of energy drinks to get me through that night's DJ shift. Carrying a hefty-sized duffel bag, he cut to the chase, informing me of how he had just been released from jail and was in need of "a couple of bucks." Was this hard luck story authentic? I didn't care. If it was simply some sketchy ruse, well, shame on him. The man appeared (to me) to be in genuine need, so I gave him my last $10. In return, he gave me a hug. In my mind, it was a fair exchange.

I've experienced several other opportunities throughout this Christmas season in which to be kind and compassionate. And every time I respond generously, I'm the one who seems to walk away feeling blessed. Note to self: The spirit of giving is pretty cool. I just hope this gift of a generous heart is one that won't be soon discarded along with the floral neck tie and the "I'm with Stupid" T-shirt from seasons past  — as I want to continue sharing it with others for years to come. 

-Christopher Long
(December 2017)

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