The kids and I recently took a picnic lunch to the park. No, not the old-fashioned kind of picnic, with the pretty basket and the checkered tablecloth. We did the drive-thru, fast-food kind of picnic. Fried chicken, French fries, and sodas.
We sat on the banks of the pond and watched a group of ducks swimming around, ducking their heads under the water and catching fish. I wonder if that is why we call them ducks? Anyway, as we finished up our meals, we decided to offer our leftover French fries to the fluffy birds. We tore them in small pieces and tossed them into the water. Needless to say, it wasn’t long until the ducks were crowding to our corner of the pond, begging for more.
All of them except one, that is. One of the ducks, with snow-white feathers and a bright orange beak, stayed to himself. We started giving each of the ducks names, and my son, Foster, focused in on the loner. “His name is Jimmy,” he told us.
Jimmy swam to the opposite side of the small pond and climbed onto the bank. He looked perfectly happy to be alone. He was just relaxing, chilling out, enjoying the cool breeze and the peace and quiet, away from his brothers and sisters.
Until . . .
Foster decided that Jimmy needed a French fry. He scooped up a handful of the (now) soggy fries, and took off after Jimmy. He ran full speed ahead, holding the fries out in front of him, and saying, “Here, Jimmy! Have a French fry!”
Foster nearly scared that duck to death. As Foster approached, Jimmy started quacking and waddling away as fast as his short little duck legs would carry him.
Foster: “Jimmy, come here!”
Jimmy: “Quack, quack!”
Foster: “Jimmy, stop running away from me! I have a present for you!”
Jimmy: “Quack, quack, quaaaaaaaaaack!”
As I watched my young son chase Jimmy around the pond, I couldn’t help but be impressed. Foster had such a desire to give, to share, and he wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way! His actions displayed that he knows the importance of giving. His technique needed a little polishing, but his heart was in the right place.
I wonder what it would look like if more of us took Foster’s attitude toward giving. What would happen if we looked around, saw our abundance, and said, “Hey! I’ve got extra! I’m going to share!” And then, what if we actually went out and found people who were in need, and met that need?
All too often, we just rely on our churches, or the Salvation Army, or the government to meet the needs of those less fortunate. We donate our old clothes, we write a check to our local church, and we’re done. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Except . . .
I want to experience the joy I saw on Foster’s face when he shared his French fries with Jimmy. And I’ve never received that kind of joy from dumping a load of old clothes at the local Goodwill.
I think I’ll try to be more aware of the people around me. Perhaps I can meet a need that someone has for friendship. Perhaps I can babysit for a young mother whose husband is deployed, or read to an elderly person, or mow someone’s lawn. I hope I’ll go about meeting those needs with a little more subtlety and grace than my son. But I also hope I will be just as enthusiastic about giving as he was.
Foster finally figured out that force-feeding Jimmy wasn’t an option. Jimmy finally figured out that Foster wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and before long, duck and boy were fast friends.
Now if Foster would just get that excited about cleaning his room . . .
Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”