Would you like to hear a story?
About eleven years ago, Tim and were childless newlyweds who attended a home meeting with several families, all of whom had children. We were drawn to one family in particular, probably because their two girls, then 3 and 6, were just so irresistible. They loved to climb up in our laps and nestle their blonde heads on our shoulders and when asked, confide that their favorite food was "stwawbewwies." 'Nuf said.
We shared a warm relationship the parents, although truth to tell, we had little in common, externally speaking. The husband, for example, worked for Dell by day but spent his weekends fishing and hunting on his deer lease. Tim's not a hunter, and the one time I tried shooting clay pigeons, my shoulder was sore for weeks. Plus, you know, Bambi.
Fast forward to four months ago. We see them at my SIL's 40th birthday party and, knowing that he recently sold his archery/hunting goods business, I start picking his brain about archery options for young 'uns, Ian having expressed interest. He recommends a man in town who makes custom bows, but when I hear the price tag, upward of $100, I gulp and decide to file that away in the mental Rolodex.
Okay, three weeks ago. Our church congregation places a strong emphasis on shepherding one another as fellow believers in Christ. A man shared a testimony in our morning meeting about how key to his spiritual survival this kind of care was during his teenage years. Nothing supernatural, just camping trips and coffee talks with some older ones who took an interest in him. I was touched -- convicted a bit, perhaps, wondering if there might be anyway I could serve someone like this. Apparently, so was our friend Jim.
He called Tim the next day, and the long and the short of it was, he had won a gift certificate at an auction, and he wanted to buy Ian a custom-made bow and teach him to shoot it.
I think Jim would tell you himself that he's not by any means a "high-profile" guy; like most of us, not a fiery evangelist or a frequent public speaker. In gatherings, you might not notice him. But he's living proof that quieter members can speak volumes with their offerings of love.
So we arrived at their house on New Year's Day, ostensibly just for a friendly lunch, torn between tears of gratitude and smug smiles at the thought of the surprise lying in wait for our son. According to his wife and daughter, Jim had been nearly beside himself with excitement over our coming, and he barely knows Ian. (Maybe that's for the better -- no preconceived notions, you know? Clean slate and all that.)
They practiced in the yard, and then Jim broke the news: "You can keep that bow. It's for you."
Behold the results:
Now we have a target (not a clay deer) set up on our back yard, a thank-you note on the to-do list and a list of safety instructions posted on the fridge for our young Robin Hood. He really seems to have the knack -- or should I say, the gift for it?