The Simplest Gifts

Sep 18, 2016

Rev. Scott Jamieson, Church Of Another Chance, inside the Men's jail in Nashville, TN

In our competitive world, where being the best is a symbol of worthiness, and being less than that can feel like a compromised life, God cries, but we don’t hear the sobs. So we search for that one thing that will make us stand out in the crowd. Each year that passes makes the search more frantic. “What is mine to do?” is the irritating question that immobilizes us into thinking we are not living right. And God cries…

Finding our place, finding that one thing that we can do that no one else can is a lumbering existential question that never sleeps. It is glued to us as much as the stars are to the night sky. And so we search…so often in the wrong place.

Earl Nightingale used to tell the story of the South African farmer who sold his farm so that he could join with the hundreds of people coming to the country to search for diamonds. He thirsted to be rich, to find the wealth of his dreams by searching the neighboring land for the elusive treasure that would ultimately give his life the value he desperately sought. The farmer spent years on the search, never finding even a trace of diamonds. He died broke, sick, depressed and empty. Today, on the very farm he sold sits the largest diamond mine in the world.

Like the farmer we often believe the one thing we need for wholeness lies outside of us. So we search…we buy cars, houses, baubles and bangles, join country clubs, and wear fancy clothes only to find they are not the diamonds we seek. Somehow we are deluded into believing our goodness is outside and we have to find it. But it is not so. God didn’t hide the diamond outside the farm. God put the diamond right inside and we don’t see it. So God cries.

Those tears are because God gave us everything we need. Each of us has already been given the only gift we need. I’m not talking just about our life; I’m talking about the experiences of life that no one can duplicate. No one has ever lived life as you have. Every experience you have is unique because it is filtered through your own eyes, your own way of seeing the world, the anguish, the love, the heartache, the unexpected thrills and joys and the devastating losses that have accumulated in your life. All of life’s experiences roll up to make each of us one of a kind. There is no one else like you.

That simple gift of being you, of appreciating the remarkable uniqueness that is you is what makes your presence in the world so valuable and such a gift. In a time in which many are desperate to tell their story, to be heard, particularly those men and women in prison and jails, our ears are the gift because they connect to our hearts, hearts that have been tenderized by life and the compassion that comes from honest living, honest hurting, and honest loving. That simple gift of listening, caring because you are you, is the most meaningful endowment that can be given. It seems too small to be important. Yet, it is too big to be overlooked.

In the world of an inmate an open ear and open heart can be the rarest diamond to be found. It’s what makes God smile.

Category: love

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