The Riverview MSU Venue Christmas Party last night was probably the perfect way to head into the Holiday Season (or as those of you who are still in school know it, break). There were a whole bunch of people there I was stoked to see, a myriad of fantastic Christmas sweaters, and four baptisms to start the night.
And there was also a white elephant gift exchange.
The white elephant gift exchange was a blast even just while it was happening. We had close to 70 presents brought in to be traded around, and there were some really sweet takes: a paddleball, a live goldfish in a bowl, and a framed poster of Taylor Lautner, among others. (Side note: I’m not sure what the big deal about the Taylor Lautner poster was, but judging by everyone’s reaction it was some sort of big deal. 😉 ) Also among the gifts exchanged were a jar of homemade cookies (the likes of which I had enjoyed before, and trust me, they are AWESOME) and a package of diapers. Now, when my turn came around- turn 43- I did the only logical thing. I went for the cookies and shamelessly stole them from the person who had unwrapped them in the first place. Mission accomplished! Until about ten turns later when they got stolen from me. Surprisingly, I was not particularly outraged. I figured someone else would probably snag the cookies. They are, after all, cookies. But I had been keeping my eye on another gift wrapped in a bright yellow bag, so after the cookies were stolen from me, I went to that one. Shock and surprise! It was the diapers.
As much as this seemed a disappointment, it was all in the fun of the game, and I didn’t particularly mind. I figured that I would laugh it up in the moment and then quietly dispose of this apparent gag gift when I got home. Before that happened, however, Providence intervened. In the car on the way home, my friend Jing and I were talking about how God has a plan for everything and life happens the way it does for a reason. I brought up the time that I spent working 65-70 hour weeks unloading semi trucks in a warehouse after graduating from college and how thankful I was for the lessons that God taught me through that experience. My friend Ben from the warehouse was even able to come to the new company where I work now shortly after I did. I explained how much of a blessing that was since the warehouse doesn’t pay very well and Ben and his wife Carissa have a two-year old son (Asher) and another son on the way. In clear evidence of my obliviousness and Jing’s remarkable common sense, she suggested that I give the diapers to Ben instead of tossing them, since he might have a use for them. I’ll copy over my text conversation with Ben below so that you can get the full picture.
Me: “Hey, Ben! I got a pack of diapers tonight at a white elephant gift exchange. I figure you’ll have a use for them before I will, so I’ll bring them by the office next week so you can have them.”
Ben: “Ok. Thanks man what size are they?”
I was driving, so before I got to the next red light, he texted me again.
I was pretty sure I remembered them being size 5.
Me: “Yeah. Is that a useful size?”
I know nothing about babies or their sizes.
Ben: “For real size 5’s?”
Me: “Yeah, I’m 99% sure. I’m in the car now but I can double check when I get home.”
Ben: “Seriously Carissa just told me the other day we were running low on diapers. She’s been praying for some. And Asher wears size 5’s. God is soooo good! He used you to answer a prayer for us!”
Cue me reading that and then immediately half laughing and half crying at the dual ridiculousness and sheer miraculousness of what had just happened. I could not believe it. I cried the rest of the way to the gas station where I was filling up before heading home (although I quickly composed myself so that I could be a man again standing outside my car). When I got out to fill my tank, I checked: size 5’s. There is just absolutely no way probable that the series of circumstance that had to collide to create this situation could have happened by random chance. As my mentor Holger so often says, “Coincidence? I think not!”
There are two important lessons that I learned from this.
1: God has a sense of humor that is completely intertwined with equal parts of instruction and justice.
2: God will always use every situation that He creates, in one way or another, for His glory.
Not only did God answer a prayer and fill a need with something as simple as a pack of diapers at a white elephant gift exchange, but he also (as he does nine times out of ten in my life) taught me an important lesson about humility. Remember: I picked the cookies. A completely temporary, self-serving gift that I wanted for me. God turned that around and although he used the experience to teach me something, he also blessed me greatly by including me as a step in the answer to a friend’s prayers.
There’s no better way that I could think of to enter into the Christmas season: both humbled and blessed by God, and seeing him work to answer prayers in people’s lives. And as for the white elephant gifts, I’d argue that I received the best gift of all.
If I don’t write again before, have a very Merry Christmas, everybody.