Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace

Friday, December 5, 2014

Paper Angels

  I just re-read a book that I had read when it first came out a few years ago, Paper Angels, by Jimmy Wayne and Travis Thrasher. Although this may sound like a book review that belongs on my other blog where I do review books, it is not intended to be a book review.

  The story is fictional, though after reading Jimmy Wayne's book about his life, I saw some similarities in the fictional story and Jimmy's story.

  The fictional story revolves around a 15 year old boy named Thomas and his mother and sister. They run off from their husband and father to avoid his abuse, and live in some very poor and sad circumstances. So her children can have some gifts for Christmas, the mother signs her kids up for the Salvation Army's Christmas Tree Angel program..... underprivileged kids write out their Christmas wish list and it is written on a paper angel with the kid's first name for someone to take and buy the gifts for. Jimmy Wayne himself benefited from it as a kid, and wrote a song titled Paper Angels on one of his country CDs.

  When I read Jimmy Wayne's story, I found tears in my eyes several times. The same thing happened while reading Paper Angels. Some books are dangerous to read, for they shake you up and make you wish you could do more. And both books did that.

  In the fictional book, the boy asked for an iPod, a pair of Nike basketball shoes, a Chicago Bulls jacket, and a digital camera. There's no way I could afford a Christmas list like that, but I found myself wishing I could do something for someone this Christmas who is in need.

  The year I moved to the state of Indiana, I was very low on cash at Christmas. It didn't look like I would be able to buy gifts for my family for Christmas, but some unknown good Samaritan gave me $100, and I was able to buy some things. Not a lot, but enough that I was able to give.

 I was in the Big Brother program for a few years, and though the boy who was my little brother wasn't poor or destitute, but had a hard working mother. Regardless, I enjoyed spending money on the kid and got him some Christmas gifts. But how much more enjoyable it must be to give to a kid who isn't going to get Christmas gifts.

  We Christians like to spout religious phrases this time of year. "He's the reason for the season", "Wise men still seek Him", "Give Him your heart for Christmas", etc. We like to point out that we give gifts because God gave His Son as a gift for us.... and that is the idea. But how much greater the meaning of Christmas if we give to someone who isn't going to give us a gift back?

  Last year the week of Christmas, I was let in front of a lady while checking out because I had 3 items and she had a cart full. A lady got behind her who only had eggnog, so paid for her eggnog so she wouldn't have to wait. I got a hug, smile, and a "Merry Christmas" out of adding a few bucks to what I was buying.

  Eggnog. In the grand scheme of life, one eggnog bought out of my own pocket for a lady I had never seen before and most likely won't see again...... it isn't going to amount to much. God isn't going to let me into Heaven for that one kind and unselfish deed. But what if we did more? What if everyone who claimed to serve God bought a gift for someone in need, or for someone they don't expect a gift back from?

  God did that. He knew the majority of people down through the ages would refuse His gift and refuse to give in return all He wants from us: our hearts. Not eggnog. A heart.

  I have been praying about it; asking God to help me find someone to do something for this Christmas. A paper angel may be more than I could do, but a gift card, a gift basket, a toy...... I could do that.

  And most of us can. I love to get gifts, but I love to give gifts. But it doesn't always have to be to those who are going to give back. Even the wickedest of people do that. To give to those who cannot give back is to do what all Christians should do. It is what Christmas is all about.

Paper Angels by Jimmy Wayne

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