“Beautiful gifts are often wrapped in very unappealing packages.”

By Terry Wardle

March 11, 2012

“Beautiful gifts are often wrapped in very unappealing packages.”

The worship service had ended and I was making my way to the car, somewhat tired after having preached at three services that morning. Across the parking lot I saw a man frantically motioning for me to come over to where he was standing. I knew him to be part of our congregation, though not particularly active. But on this day he was quite animated about me hurrying to meet up with him.

“Preacher, this is for your ministry. I know you are trying to start a retreat center, and well … here … this will help.” In his hand was an old paper bag, all crumpled up, wrinkled, worn, and smelling of dirt. As I took it  I could feel that it was rather damp, and there was something inside. But my attention was how rugged and dirty this old paper bag was that was now in my hand.

“I had it buried in my basement. It’s yours now. Use it for your ministry.”  I began to open the paper bag, and he protested.  “No, not here. You take that somewhere else to open it. Somewhere safe.” He turned, got in his car, and drove away, leaving me standing there with an old, dirty, smelly paper bag in my hand.

I went home, where several leaders in the congregation were gathered for dinner with Cheryl and me. I told them the story, and then with all of them watching and wondering, I opened the gift with the most unattractive wrapping. It was twenty thousand dollars. Twenty thousand musty, damp, smelling, but wonderful dollars that would help us move to the next phase of our ministry to broken people. We laughed, we cried, we praised the Lord, and we learned a very important lesson. Sometimes, life’s greatest gifts are wrapped in the most unappealing packages.

Keywords: gift, ministry, worship
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