Three hours and 574 dollars later, Scott and I emerged from Belk with a dolly full of children's clothing. That's right-a dolly. Like one of those huge metal carts you use at a landscaping store to move around bags of mulch and fertilizer. We had to use the dolly because between Vivian in her stroller and our six LARGE bags of merchandise, we simply couldn't carry it all. We shopped til we dropped, grabbing dresses, sweaters, pants and shirts off of the ridiculously low priced clearance racks at Belk. And while the grand total was quite a chunk of change. The savings of 3,478 dollars made 574 feel like mere spending cash!
I am the first to preach about not spoiling my children. I am also the one most prone to spoil them. Can you blame me? Really, it isn't about the things. The children's primary need isn't for "stuff", though I'll say they have next to nothing materially. Each would struggle to fill even a backpack with their personal possessions.
Considering this it would make sense to say that children who are so poor would be appreciative for almost anything. Why spend so much money on brand new clothing for a bunch of orphans? We've had plenty of gracious offers of free used children's clothing and hand-me-downs from kind individuals. Hand-me-downs and used clothing are fantastic. They're functional and financially friendly. And after all, Jesus tells us not to be worried about what we will wear. The body is more important than clothes. (Matt. 6:25)
The thing is-I don't buy the children clothing to cover their bodies. I do it to bring gladness to their souls.
The King I work for happens to oversee a special Kingdom where the last shall be first and the first shall be last. Where orphans are princes and princesses given a first class treatment. For cast off, forgotten children who might think they are not worth very much I have a Father who sent His only Son, a Savior who gave His life, and a brand new dress wit hthe tag still on.
It is one thing to tell a child that they are worth something, but physically communicating this truth to them is essential. So I gift them to remind them that in God's Kingdom and in my world they are not second rate, second place, or second best. They are sons. They are daughters. They are loved. And not only do their needs matter, so do their wants.
This is the same "logic" we used when we decided to give a playground to the children for Christmas. The ministry was low on funds (as always!). The kids needed food. Teachers needed to be paid. How could we justify it? Yet Sarah and I made the executive decision to use 2,000 precious dollars, roughly 1/4 of Ranch on Jesus' monthly budgeted needs to install playgrounds at the Orphanage Home and Primary School. Did they need it? No. Could the money have been better spent? Not in my opinion.
Our Heavenly Father faithfully gives us our daily bread. He always gives us what we need. But just as a loving father would, there are times He gives us something extra. He gives us what we want. He gives us cake.
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matt 7:11
He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. Psalm 112:9
I've had the Lord give me plenty of cake over the course of my life. I am sure if you think for a moment you will remember a time when God seemed to go over and above all that you asked or imagined! He indulged you! He does it all the time. When we moved to Birmingham two years ago I prayed for "just one friend." God sent me that friend. He sent her straight off an airplane at her end of two years of missionary service in Uganda. There she was: sitting in my baby shower! I had been asking for just anyone to help me get by. My loving Father sent me a friend He had been saving for me better than I could have ever expected.
This is the generous nature of the God I know and love. So while I daily pray and ask for the basic materials to keep our little ones at Ranch on Jesus physically sustained, last night at Belk I walked out the door with 574 dollars worth of cake. And let me tell you, I felt pretty good about it.
I'll feel even better in seven weeks when I get to hand nine year old Gilbert a brand new outfit with the tags still on! He would have been sincerely appreciative for a used tshirt. But this year he will smile with a rare joy because someone loved him enough to buy something new for him. You can't put a price tag on that!