Sixteen-year-old Jenna returned from church with two extra large Ziploc bags, each containing a list of items to be included in a crisis care kit. The kits were designed to meet the immediate hygiene needs of a family in crisis due to a sudden calamity. With the last paycheck from her summer job, Jenna proceeded to the store to purchase the necessary supplies. She planned to assemble two of the emergency care packages for victims of hurricane Katrina. Shampoo, toothpaste.
She visited three stores, carefully choosing each personal care item on the list. Hand towels, soap, comb. At home she spread the items across her bed in two piles. Three toothbrushes, one pair of clippers, one box of band aids, four tissue packs.
I watched as the piles of new, shiny items and packages grew. I asked if she had purchased the last item on the list, a Beanie-Baby-sized stuffed toy. She shook her head, indicating she had not. "I have some you can use," I announced, leaving the room. I dug through the toys in my next-spring's-garage-sale bag and returned with five possibilities.
She picked up each small stuffed animal, looked it over, and replaced it on the bed where she had found it. As she examined the rescued toys, I noticed a mint-condition Beanie Baby from her prized collection already topped each pile of personal items. "No," she said, dismissing the fifth and final stuffed animal. "You're going to put in one of your good ones?" I asked, not hiding my surprise. She nodded. "The real thing is always the best," she said.
One item remained on the list of contents-$2 (U.S.) for postage. She reached into her jeans pocket for money left after the purchases. It was enough for one bag. After retrieving more money from her nightstand for the second bag, the kits were complete.
I was humbled and a bit chastised by her generosity.
While I wanted to give leftovers, Jenna was willing to give her very best. Instead of giving a toy that no one in our home wanted anymore, she gave the finest stuffed toy she could find. Instead of rationing her last check to cover the time she wouldn't be working, she willingly used a large chunk of it to purchase the care kit items. Her example reminds me of Paul's words to the Corinthians, "You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion" (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Our blessings from above should be used to share generously with those in need. Just as God gave the best, most "real" gift He could give-His only Son-we too should give of our best. Lord, help us to be satisfied with nothing less than giving our very best to you.
Beth Steury is a freelance writer living in Berne, Indiana.
Holiness Today, September/October 2005