March 31, 2020
In one of his many books, pastor and author John Ortberg shares that when his grandmother died, his grandfather called Ortberg’s mother and offered her an old box of dishes that he had found up in the attic. He was going to get rid of them, but then noticed they were blue. He knew that was his daughter-in-law’s favorite color so he gave her a call. “If you want them, they are yours,” he said, “Otherwise, I’ll give them to the Salvation Army.”
Ortberg’s mother was expecting some run-of-the-mill dinnerware. What she found instead was the most exquisite china she had ever seen. Each plate had been individually painted. The cups were inlaid mother-of-pearl. The dishes and cups were rimmed with gold. The china had been handcrafted in a Bavarian factory that was destroyed during the Second World War so they were literally irreplaceable.
How come no one had ever seen this china before? Gradually, the story came out. When Ortberg’s grandmother had been very young, she had been given the china over a period of years. The family wasn’t wealthy and the china was quite valuable, so she only got one piece at a time and only for special occasions – a birthday, or confirmation, or graduation.
What do you do with something so valuable? As each piece was received, it was carefully wrapped in tissue, placed in a box, and stored in the attic for a very special occasion. But apparently no occasion that special ever came along. As a result, in Ortberg’s words, “my grandmother went to her grave with the greatest gift of her life unopened and unused.”
I can’t imagine that young woman’s family gave her the china with the hope that it might sit in a dusty attic and never be touched. It was given to be used, given to be a blessing, given to bring beauty and wonder into that woman’s life. They gave it with the thought that every time she brought it out she would be reminded of how much she was loved and of the very special place she held in their hearts. But none of that happened because she was too afraid that it might get broken.
Is there a gift that God has given you that remains unopened? Maybe it is a heart for prayer, or an artistic bent. Or perhaps it is a gift for teaching, or great wealth, or the quality of compassion. The possibilities are endless. Whatever the gift, though, it is meant to be used; meant to be a blessing to you and to others. So if you haven't done so already, find the box up in the attic. Dust it off and open it up. Risk sharing it with others. You might just find that doing so brings some unexpected joy into your life. One thing for sure: it will bring joy to that One who first shared it with you.
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”(Mt. 7:11)
- Pastor Chris