May 14, 1976 was a special day. My brother Mike and I were celebrating the completion (almost for me) of our Bible College/seminary work and were being ‘ordained into the Christian ministry’. Dad was our Presiding Elder, my favorite professor was Officiant and a long time family pastor friend was the Administrating Secretary.
You might think that someone graduating from Bible College with a ministry degree would have been familiar with ordinations, but honestly, this was the first one I had ever attended. I knew there would be singing, scripture reading, prayer, pastoral charge, the ‘laying on of elders hands’ and the receiving of well wishes, but I didn’t even consider the thought that there would be gifts. Neither Mike or I expected any. It never crossed our minds. And to be sincere, it felt a little bit awkward receiving them.
During the greeting time, first one family/friend would offer ‘well wishes’ then another. And with each greeting came a token of love and affirmation. All of them were humbling and memorable: A beloved book passed on for us to cherish, a commentary to use for studying, a note of congratulations with a small gift. But one gift stood out among them all. It came from Grandmother Neighbors. I’m somewhat uncertain of all the background details, but she simply kissed me on the cheek and put some money in my hand. There wasn’t a card or anything else that led me to believe she has thought of this in advance. Actually, it seemed like she had just thought of it. When I looked, the amount totaled $9.68. Interesting. Not $5 or $10, but $9.68.
With the knowledge of the gift amount and the history I had with Grandma, I knew what had happened. She hadn’t thought of a gift until the moment she saw others greeting us. And without even noticing or caring, it seemed, she reached into her purse and gave me ‘ALL SHE HAD’. Later as I reflected on her gift, my eyes welled with tears. Grandma was not a woman of means. Widowed three times after having cared for those physically frail husbands. Quilting to pay bills. And eventually moving in with her son and his family to finish out her allotted days. She knew hard times, but she always loved to cook for ‘Little Chuckie’ and his family. (Not a lot of people call me ‘Little Chuckie’) 🙂 Our stops to see her as we passed though to home from Mom and Dad’s were always filled with love, chicken, mashed potatoes and perfectly hand cut thin noodles. Wow! Oh how she loved me. To this day, I am still moved by her loving gift.
As I look back on that day in May, I remember that all the people gave some, but Grandma gave all she had. And in a way, her gift reminds me of the loving gift God gave us in His Son, Jesus. In the words of a favorite hymn, ‘Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow’. Jesus gave all.
Let’s not hesitate to give Him our all. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 116:12, ‘How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people’!