So Patrick gave away his favorite toy to a classmate. I got a call the next week that the family was so touched by his gift that they wanted to bless him as well. So they all showed up together to give him back what he's so freely given away. We met in the parking lot after carpool pick-up, and Brock handed Patrick a wrapped gift.
Patrick wasn't sure how to react when he saw the double-sided light saber there in the package. He listened to the mom tell him what a kind-hearted boy he is and how their family thanked God for his gift. Patrick said thank you, gave Brock a hug, and we all agreed Brock should come over soon to get the other half of his light saber so they can have a big sword fight together.
I wasn't sure what Patrick thought of it all. I mean, before the party when I asked him what he was going to tell Brock when he opened the present (like "It's so fun to play with" or "It's my favorite toy"), he looked at me blankly and said, "Happy Birthday." I knew he loved playing with it, but I also wondered if he hadn't just gotten over it being a special toy to him.
Well, I got my answer, and I was completely wrong. In a matter of minutes after pulling out of the parking lot, there were small pieces of cardboard box all over the back of the van, and a thrilled little boy saying, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" under his breath as he tore into the gift.
We were able to talk through how we don't need to be afraid to give when we can because God always provides what we need as we need it. It doesn't always look like getting back exactly what we gave, but sometimes it does. Like the light sabers. Like the spring Brian gave away a huge chunk of money, and within six months, we'd saved that exact same amount twice (a big car part under warranty, and a professional favor from a friend) and then received that exact same amount back in an unexpected bonus just in time when we needed the cash. Three return gifts to the penny? It's hard to miss that it's provision from God, proof that we can trust he will provide when we need it.
Please don't hear me say that we can manipulate God in our giving. We don't give in order to receive. We love because he first loved us. We give out of what was first given to us.
Bottom line, God is good all the time. Right? All the time...