The Gift

I reckon I ought to apologize for not bloggin’ for such a long time but I’ve been really busy what with tryin’ to keep an eye on them baby longhorn cows that keep showin’ up. Seems like every time I check the pasture there’s a new face with wobbly knees out there. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
‘Tis the season to be jolly for folks. (Shoot, I’m jolly ‘bout all the time. Pop and the Missus are always sayin’ that one day my tail’s gonna fall off from waggin’ so much. But I digress.) This time of year close family and friends are in a happy mood and enjoy givin’ gifts to each other to show their affection. That’s purty normal. What ain’t normal is givin’ or getting’ gifts from folks that don’t fit that category. Well, the other day that’s zactly what happened to Pop. Here’s the story he told when he came home from church last Sunday . . .
There’s this feller Pop knows from church and he calls him Big John. Pop says he calls him that because he’s just a real big dude. Pop says he’s nicer than a neck scarf on a cold mornin’. Always smilin’ with an encouraging word and a feller who’ll talk you ears off if you let him. And smart! This guy knows some history, particularly stuff relatin’ to the military. Pop and Big John got to talkin’ about military weaponry a while back and Pop was admirin’ that Big John had a couple of Civil War era Springfield trap door rifles (whatever that is). Pop asked Big John if he’d be interested in sellin’ one of them rifles and Big John said sure. So, it kinda slipped Pop’s mind and he didn’t give it another thought.
Anyway, after church, Pop and Big John are exchangin’ pleasantries and Big John asks Pop if he’ll follow him somewhere. Not knowin’ what Big John needed, Pop scratched his head and said he’d be glad to. So Pop and the Missus walked along with Big John and they ended up in the parking lot. Big John tells Pop to hang on for a minute and that he needs to get somethin’ outta his car. Now it is Christmas season and Pop ain’t no dummy so by now he’s figured Big John’s got a fruit cake or some such thing to maybe re-gift. Well Big John pulls out somethin’ that would be the world’s weirdest shaped fruit cake if that’s what it was. Even with a sock sleeve over it, though, Pop could tell it was part of Big John’s gun collection and Pop figured Big John wanted him to see a new acquisition. (Now admit it folks, y’all are impressed that I know a word that big.) Well Big John hands it to Pop, looks him square in the eye and says “Merry Christmas”. Now Pop ain’t usually at a loss for words but this time he just stuttered and stammered not knowin’ what to say. “Remember us talkin’ about me having two trap doors? Well you said you’d like to have one so here it is. It’s a gift.” Still tryin’ to process what’s just happened, Pop still ain’t figured out what to say so all he can think of is “A gift?” “Yup”, said Big John. “You deserve it.” “For what?” said Pop. “For all you’ve done for Scouting and for all you’re doing for veterans” said Big John. “I want you to have it.” By this time the tears are wellin’ up in ol’ Pops eyes and now he really don’t know what to say. Pop argued that he didn’t deserve nothin’ for what he’s done but Big John wasn’t havin’ any of it. He just stood there grinnin’. Pop looks over at the Missus and she was grinnin’, too. Seems she was a co-conspirator and helped set this whole thing up. By now Pop’s just tryin’ not to look like an idiot standin’ there in the parkin’ lot but all he can think to do is give Big John a bear hug and say thank you.
Pop and the Missus took their leave and headed across the church parking lot with Pop totin’ this thing that anybody could tell was a rifle. A few heads turned while Pop and the Missus just waved howdy and walked on. They stopped briefly to swap a Merry Christmas with another family and this feller says “Bring a gun to church today?” Pop said “Nope. It’s a gift from Big John. He said I deserved it for workin’ with Scouts for so many years and for helpin’ out the local veterans park. Can you believe that?” “Well”, says the guy, “you do deserve it.” And with that, Pop started tearin’ up again. He and the missus strolled a lot slower than usual to the truck as Pop tried to process what had just happened. All he could say to the Missus was “Thank goodness we don’t get what we deserve”.
Pop said it’s hard to explain how touched he was that somebody would be so generous and that the words meant way more to him than the gift. That kind of encouragement and validation is rare and Pop learned a valuable lesson from Big John that day. When you serve as an act of love and compassion, somebody notices. If nobody else, the Lord knows for sure and He’ll figure out a way to let you know He knows. Big John was the Lord’s messenger that day. I reckon it’s true that the Lord do work in mysterious ways.