Monday, October 28, 2013

A Manger and A Shoebox

I don't remember my first shoebox. I don't recall the exact moment when those little boxes started meaning so much to me that just thinking about them brings tears to my eyes.

But I know that every year, I pack them with my children. Every year I cry as I pray over those boxes. I read the stories of impacted lives and my heart soars. They cross my mind when I see toys on clearance after Christmas, when the crayons are 25 cents a box each August.

If you don't know about Operation Christmas Child and the shoeboxes, you can find out a lot at the website. The basic idea is to take a shoebox and pack it full of things like school supplies, hygiene products, and toys. Send that shoebox to a child in a less fortunate area of the world. Along with the wonderful goodies in the box, each child gets the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ.

I've done other Christmas charities in the past - Angel tree, adopt-a-family, Toys for Tots. They're great and worthy programs and people's lives are enriched through them, but for me it's ultimately the shoeboxes.

[caption id="attachment_327" align="aligncenter" width="949"]Sstacks of shoeboxes at the church altar The shoeboxes being dedicated at church this past Sunday.[/caption]

Look at those boxes. Each one represents a child. A child that probably won't get anything else for Christmas this year or even for their birthday.

The best part of each of those boxes is the amount of love crammed in amongst the pencils and candy. It fills every crevice and space, settling between the crayons and toy cars, filling the balls, and resting between the soap and the toothpaste. I know in my house, the packing of the boxes is an epic event, done with the greatest care and loving intentions.

Operation Christmas Child
A small bundle, a tiny container, sent with love and the hope that the receiver will accept God's ultimate gift of salvation.

I think that's why I like the shoeboxes. They help us remember that Christmas is about a very small gift given with the largest of intentions and the biggest love of all.  A baby in a manger, so small, so seemingly insignificant when compared to the stacks of Christmas presents I and most of my friends are used to having.

A manger, like a shoebox, was designed to hold something basic. But God used a manger, like He uses a shoebox, to deliver a gift so precious. That's the beautiful thing about love - it's condenses so easily into tiny packages.

So many times it's the little things that have the greatest impact.

I know it's October and even mentioning the word Christmas makes a lot of people scream, but the collection date for shoeboxes is coming up soon. Not only is it an easy way to potentially change a child's life, it's a great reminder before hitting to size and busyness of the holiday season.

For me, it sometimes becomes so easy to get caught up in giving more and more to those you love because you want them to feel that love. But when I pack a shoebox, I have to pack with such care and intention because the space is limited.

I want my days to be like that. Because a day is limited. A day is small.

Pack today with love.

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