Last night I had an interesting dream. I was with a little girl and we were sitting on the ground talking. There was a lot of activity around us, but I was focused on that girl. She told me she was 7 years old. I remember thinking that her long, curly black hair was so pretty. She had a wonderful smile and she had a tight grip on my hand. I asked her if she had ever heard about Jesus and she said no. She seemed puzzled that I would ask her that question. She asked me to tell her who Jesus was and why she should know about him. So I began to explain to her about our wonderful creator God who made the entire world and even created us. When I told her about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, she identified the "evil, bad man" right away. (Isn't it interesting how children KNOW about good and evil from a really young age?) She was dismayed that the "children" had not obeyed their father and they had listened to the bad man. When I told her the Father had a great plan to bring His children back to him, she was so excited. And then I told her about Jesus and his great love for all of us. In my dream she was so excited that she was jumping up and down, saying "YES, YES, YES!" The really odd thing about this dream was the activity all around us. There were all of these well dressed, very wealthy looking people with boxes of "stuff" that they were giving out. There was one lady who kept insisting that this little girl I was talking with should take a very large, bright blue coat that she was holding. The girl told her over and over that she didn't NEED that coat and she didn't WANT that coat. But the lady was just not giving up. She kept trying to lay the coat over the girl, and she would just give it right back. This was going on through out the entire dream.
When I woke from this dream all I could think about was that coat. I kept hearing that child say "I don't need that coat and I don't want that coat." So this had been on my mind all day. I told Gwen about the dream and she said of course, it was obvious. Well, it wasn't so obvious to me! How often do we think we know what children and even youth need. We become so intent on pressing our "gift" on them, that we miss the thing that they are really hungry for. Yes, sometimes what they need and want are basic life needs like food, water and clothes. This dream was a reminder to me that it is really important to make sure that the Holy Spirit is leading us when we reach out to others. No matter what that looks like. We should be prayerful before every act of service and should take every opportunity to share Jesus.
Operation Christmas Child, and watch some of the videos that profile kids who receive these boxes. If you have ever wanted to see evidence of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing our actions, these videos will show you that. There is story after story of kids who got the exact item that they most NEEDED and WANTED! Over and over you will be amazed by the small details - the little things - that only Jesus could have orchestrated through these gifts. These boxes are not hand selected for specific children by any human hand. Yet the little girl who wants a bow for her hair will find one in her box. Or the boy with no shoes will discover a pair that fits him perfectly. The really interesting thing about this is that when you are filling a box you have no idea where it will be going. I have read lots of comments from people wondering about putting winter hats into boxes that might go to a tropical country. Or flip flops to a northern land that is very cold. After watching those videos you will see that Jesus has this totally under control. All you have to do it prayerfully select the items for the boxes you are packing. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
One of my very favorite stories about a shoebox gift was a boy who lived in an African country. His box contained a wool stocking hat. Even though it didn't seem very practical, his family preserved that shoebox and all of the gifts it contained, and it went with them on their refugee journey. His family ended up coming to the United States after 3 years of various settlement camps. And when they reached their new home, it was in Buffalo, New York. In the winter. And he had that stocking cap just waiting to be worn. Jesus had known all those years ago, that he would need that cap. It was all part of His plan.
Yes, that dream last night has given me a lot to think about. I am not going to be so quick to ASSUME that I know what is needed (or wanted) in any situation that I face. It was a wake up call to remember to pray and ask for guidance before giving someone that coat that they may not NEED or WANT. And it was also a reminder to me that I can trust that Jesus has things under control.
That is great place to be tonight. Hopeful (after watching all those wonderful videos), prayerful (after this reminder to ASK before doing) and also filled with peace, knowing that Jesus is guiding and leading us - even giving us dreams as reminders!
Jesus, thank you for helping me sort out this dream and bringing me to this understanding. Holy Spirit, remind us to pray and ask for guidance as we step out to serve and help others. Keep our eyes and ears open to your direction. Thank you for Operation Christmas Child. Bless all of those boxes yet to be delivered. Get them to exactly the right little boy or girl. Amen