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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Be an angel of impulse

"Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse."  (Henry Van Dyke) What impulses have you been acting on lately?  I really dislike being anywhere close to the shopping malls during this time of the year, so that probably accounts for my frequent deliveries from the guy who works for Amazon!  It isn't that I don't like people - I just don't like some of the impulses they act upon during this rushed and frenzied time of year. It seems that some of the most common acts of courtesy and kindness just fly out the window for some, while others take this season of sharing as a way to be a blessing to someone they don't even know. As we were at a local vendor a few days ago, mom wanted to purchase a small gift for one of the grandsons and something for my son-in-law. As we stood at the checkout counter, a woman of retirement age approached us and asked if she could pay for mom's purchases. Although mom reassured her that she was able to do so herself, the woman insisted. The blessing she was attempting to give was explained as, "I just want to do it for my late husband who passed seven years ago." The super-special blessing attempt was only foiled by her having taken the package right up along with hers and leaving the store with them!  There mom was, holding the receipt for what she did not purchase, watching as the woman left with the two small gifts. I wonder what she will do with a matchbox car and some chili spice seasonings for grilling?

Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead. I know what you’re thinking: “OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works, and I’ll show you a faith that works.”  (James 2:17-18 VOICE)

She meant well, and her heartfelt actions were touching to both of us. She probably felt horrible when she returned home to realize she had escaped with that bag! In fact, she stopped me as I was putting mom's wheelchair into the car, asking me for my name so she could put me on her prayer chain at her local church. She wanted to be sure I was thanked for what I was doing - being a caregiver to my mother. She explained she had nursed her husband during the latter days of his life until he went on to be with Jesus. She missed him every day for the past seven years. You could tell her heart was hurting for the man she had been with for so many years. I thanked her for her kindness, telling her how much it meant to have someone praying for mom and I. She had no way of knowing we had faced a tough decline in mom's condition not two days prior - not knowing if she'd bounce back again. Yet, her simple act of showing me she was appreciative of my efforts to care well for mom and to help her in these last years of her life touched my heart with gratitude. 

Our "impulsive" actions may be unplanned, but they can mean so much to those who will be touched by the simplicity of those actions. As she took out an old envelope she had tucked into her purse and a pen to write down our first names, I knew she sincerely meant to place us on that prayer chain - that women would be gathered around in the next week at her women's group and would be lifting mom and I in prayer. That meant more than the small purchase at the register that day, my friends. It meant someone was "on our side", helping to lift us up before the Savior, ensuring our needs were being taken to the throne of grace. It meant we didn't stand alone. Maybe all we can offer is a sincere hand of blessing, or a moment of shared thankfulness, or even a hug of encouragement to someone, but don't ever discount what one simple act can be in terms of blessing someone's life! 

We will have moments to be "impulsive" this holiday season - take them. We will be asked to fill a red kettle - fill it well. We might be asked to donate a few items into the holiday food drive boxes - fill 'em to overflowing. We might find ourselves patiently circling for the next available space in the parking lot - let that one who has three rambunctious children all under the age of six in the backseat have it. We could even be asked to reach out to someone who is alone, not able to get out by themselves - don't be shy, and don't ever think you don't have what it takes to be a blessing to them - chances are what they desire most is just to hold your hand or share a sugar cookie over a warm cup of tea or coffee! We never know when we will be the "angel" of "impulse" that someone receives a great blessing as a result of their encounter with us. Just sayin!