In the post prior to last, I talked about strategically placing objects in your life to remind you of spiritually loaded moments. These moments of remembering enhance your faith. One reader, Gene in Indiana, noted crosses that his children had made for him that hang from his rearview mirror. Then it struck me, duh, objects that teach are great gifts. I should have thought to mention this; particularly, when my own story was of a cross given to me.
Here are 9 tips for making the most of giving spiritually meaningful gifts.
- Commemorate an event. A baptism, confirmation, getting married, completion of a major accomplishment such as graduating, an anniversary of recovery, a retreat, etc. Give the gift as reminder of God’s involvement in those events.
- Give a gift they will regularly encounter. Three types come to mind: a) items you can carry– i.e. jewelry, key chain, coin, pocket cross b) items you display– pictures, carvings, decor c) items you use–a tool, a bible, a prayer book
- Personalize it. Engrave it. Sign it. Date it. Sometimes the spiritual significance is in the relationship that is remembered.
- Make it. Handmade items always tend to be more meaningful. As you make it be in prayer for that person. We do this at our church with quilts for cancer patients.
- Give it publicly. Some gifts are more meaningful when a person is recognized publicly. We use to have monthly birthday meetings in a recovery ministry. We gave out coins that commemorated significant milestones in people’s recovery. It was a powerful thing to honor the accomplishment publicly.
- Make the gift from a whole community. Receiving something from an entire community makes a person feel a part of the body and has an intrinsic value of feeling supported.
- Scripturize it. Okay, I don’t think “scripturize” is an actual word, but the point is tie the gift to a scripture. God’s Word is powerful and God is likely to speak through that Word in just the right moment. This may occur many years down the road when you are long gone. I reconnected through Facebook with a woman whom I gave a Bible to when she was a youth over 20 years ago. When we reconnected one of her first messages to me was that she still had that Bible!
- Give something that is personally meaningful to you. When I moved from one community, I gave away what had been my own study Bible full of my notes to a young man. In another instance, I gave a youth the Bible that had been given to me at my confirmation. He ended up giving me his confirmation Bible. I think of him every time I read it and that was also over 20 years ago.
- Give a gift with eternal value. Consider a gift that will grow their faith. How will your gift help them be closer to God?
Lastly, I will close with a God-incidence story around gift giving. One time I stopped in a video store and my son ran into a friend from school. I didn’t know the boy’s mother so I struck up a conversation with her as we waited in line. I found out that she was staying in a drug rehab house not far from our church. She happened to have just come from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where she celebrated her one year anniversary of sobriety.
I called my son over and sent him out to the car to get a small sack sitting on the front seat. I happened to have a bought an entire sack full of coins like the ones pictured above earlier that day. In fact, the ones above are what are left from that very sack. Most of them were coins with prayer hands on one side and the serenity prayer on the other. I pulled one out and put it in her palm and said, “Happy Birthday.” She cried tears of joy. She later came to our recovery group.
You never know how a simple gift that is given out of spiritual concern and love will be used. Consider someone who could use an uplifting gift and go give one today. Here are 3 ways you can apply today’s post.
Application Opportunity #1
Purchase a sack of scripture cards, tokens, bookmarks or small items that you can have handy in your car or office. Your local Christian bookstore will have tons of these items. Prayer that God will give you an opportunity to give these to someone who really needs it. Then, watch for the opportunity.
Application Opportunity #2
Give an object that teaches for the next gift you give. Who’s birthday is coming up? What can you give them that would be spiritually meaningful? Who is moving away? Going off to school? Getting married? Think of the next gift giving opportunity you have and make a point of applying one or more of the tips above to make it a gift that keeps giving to them and has eternal value.
Application Opportunity #3
Carry a pocket cross with you at all times with the intent of giving it away.