These last few weeks I have been doing something purposefully, thoughtfully, and joyfully. In my living room I have a box and occasionally I drop different items into it. The box is starting to get pretty full, so much so that I think I might have to graduate to a larger size. You see, I am really enjoying placing what may seem very random items into it. Let’s see, so far there is a package of hand warmers and foot warmers, frosted blueberry Pop-Tarts (it has to be frosted!), Q-tips, beef jerky, a deck of cards, Sour Patch Kids, Dr. Pepper flavored licorice, Chap Stick, trail mix, anti-fungal ointment and more.
Pretty impressive, right? Well it is if this is a care package for my son! These last few weeks our family has been preparing for our soldier-son to leave on his first deployment. Because it takes so long for mail and packages to be delivered, I decided that I would start working on a care package for him before he left so that I could send it as soon as he has his new address. The process of picking and choosing specific items that will make him smile, feel loved and keep him connected to his family, is one that I just love. When I am out running errands I find myself thinking, “Oh, this is perfect for Jon! I need to get this for him!” So I buy it and drop it in the box.
That image of filling a care package for my son made me start thinking about the kind of care packages I have for the other people in my life. I ask myself, “What am I choosing to drop into their boxes? Am I thoughtfully, purposefully filling their care packages with such intention? Do I truly show my love and care for them by giving them my very best?" I would never pack something for my son that I didn’t think he would really appreciate – it would be a waste of valuable space! So why wouldn’t I give my very best every day for the ones right here next to me?
Jesus wants us to follow his lead in how we build up others, how we encourage them and show them our complete love and support.
The truth of those questions sunk in. And as I seek to understand this, I am drawn to Jesus’ words to his disciples. He was always teaching them how to do just this – how to pour love, kindness, forgiveness and mercy into their lives. He was filling their “care packages” with His matchless grace. Jesus taught to forgive not seven times but seventy times seven; he said we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Jesus wants us to follow his lead in how we build up others, how we encourage them and show them our complete love and support. Paul also expresses how his own “care package” was filled by his good friend and brother in Christ, Philemon. Paul said, Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Phil.1:7 Don’t you know Philemon’s actions made Paul feel truly loved?
So this time of year when people spend so much money on items that try show their love (although commercially driven and typically temporary), I challenge you to join me and ask yourself what you are really packing into their lives. Maybe you and I need to pack some heart-warming love, a box of sweet words dusted with a good measure of sugar, and a tube or two of soothing grace and forgiveness. I do know that once you start looking for those unique items to make someone feel loved and truly cared for it brings you great joy in the process. Try it for a few days for all of your loved ones and then take a look at what your care packages have. If there is something that is not quite the best and just taking up space, take it out and fill it up with something better! I think you will enjoy this process so much that in a very short amount of time, you too will be looking for a much bigger box to fill!
Family Ministries Coordinator