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Michaels Gift

Scripture: 2 Samuel 24:18-25 Setting: Storyteller begins with a book in his hand "reading" silently. After a moment he "notices" the audience and begins telling the story. What am I reading? O, its really a good story. If you have a few minutes I would like to share it with you. So where do I start? I guess I start where all good stories start, with once upon a time, (put book down) a time not that far from our own there lived a boy named Michael. Michael was 9 years old in the 4th grade and for the first time in his life he was in love. As our story opens Michael was walking home from school. He was big for his age, with dark brown uncombed hair. He had his backpack slung over one shoulder, and he was sweating in the Alabama August Afternoon. His clothes were a little dirty; his jeans were a few inches too short and you could see his white socks above his out of style tennis shoes. To top it off there was a muddy hole in the left knee of his jeans where he had fallen a block before. (He was always clumsy) But the smile on his face showed that he was unconcerned. And anyone who has ever been in love would recognize that dreamy far off look in his eyes. As he took a right on Meadowlark to walk up the hill that would take him to his house he replayed the scene in his head again. It was the first day of school, and he was sitting in the back of the classroom. He always liked the back of the class, where he didnt feel like everyone was staring at him. He hoped his new teacher wouldnt assign seats, and she would just let him stay back there in his corner. As he waited for Class to start he pulled out his new pen and his notebook from last year. It was covered with art and doodles and little drawings that 4th graders do. He flipped through the pages past 3rd grade homework assignments also covered in doodles. He didnt turn to a clean page, his mom wouldnt get paid again until the first of the month and he had to save his paper, but he found a page that, though used, still had some space in it and started to draw. He didnt look up when he heard the door open, even though the children around him were whispering excitedly. He didnt look up when he heard someone writing on the board. But he did look up when he heard a younger voice than expected say, My name is Ms. Sharp, He looked up just as she was turning around. And the world seemed to stand still. The edges of his vision got hazy and Dream Weaver started playing in the background. In slow motion he watched blonde hair bounce around petite shoulders. In one moment he drank in the sight of her. She was small for an adult, not much taller than he was, and her face held a smile that he could loose himself in. For the first

time in his life he got this funny feeling in the bottom of his stomach, and he really hoped she would assign him a seat in the front. Ms. Sharp continued I know that many of you thought you were going to have Ms. Russell this year, That voice, he could loose himself in that voice, But Ms. Russell decided to retire at the end of last year. Im so excited to be teaching you guys, you are my first class ever, and I know that we are going to have a great year. Then she started to call the roll. Jonathan Adams? Here he called. Meagan Austin? Here called a girl in the front. Michael Barber? Michael Barber? The guy next to mike looked at him and nodded as if to say, Hey, dude, thats your name Michael couldnt do anything though. He knew it was his name, but he just couldnt speak. Is there a Michael Barber here? Here I am! He almost shouted, the words spilling out of his mouth like water out of a dam. He was so embarrassed, but she met his eyes and smiled and his heart melted into a pool around his feet. Now on his way home from school he was making plans of their life together. Him, His mom, and Ms. Sharp all one big happy family. The next day for school he did his best to look good. He begged his mom to let him wear his Sunday clothes, but referring to the state of his jeans she refused. He brushed his teeth, and even combed his hair. When he got to school he wasnt the only little boy who had tried to look their best. The room was full of 9 year-olds in slacks and dress shirts with slicked down hair, and from the smell of it some of them were even wearing after shave. So began the love between Ms. Sharp and the boys of her 4th grade class. Over the next few weeks the number of boys in dress shirts dwindled, and the parents put a stop to the aftershave, but that didnt stop the way they felt about Ms. Sharp, and none more than Michael. During the second week of September Michael got two really important announcements. The first one happened Monday morning before school when his mom was fixing his cereal. Mikey, she said, You know that two weeks from now is your 10th birthday, and since 10 is such an important age I think you should have a party for all of your friends. Michael didnt know what to say. He was so excited that he didnt even eat a single bite of his cheerios. A real party with all of his friends. The next bit of news came that Tuesday in the mail. He got a letter addressed to him. Big enough news for a 9 year old to get a letter, but even bigger what was inside. Announcement from the principal Ms. Sharps B-day is September 25 We will be having a surprise party for her during last hour.

Since she is new in town we will be bringing house warming gifts. Now Michael knew they were supposed to be together. Their birthdays were only two days apart. Michael started making birthday invitations that very day. He made them all by hand drawing each one on notebook paper. On each one was a picture. On some it was a picture of a red semi truck, on others it was a picture of a red robot. On the one for Ms. Sharp, the one made not out of notebook paper but art paper, there were both the truck and the robot both forms of the toy he wanted more than anything else the Transformer Optimus Prime. The day of his birthday comes and his mom got everything set up. They sat in their waiting for guest to arrive. At around time for the party some of Michaels cousins show up, but no one from his school is there. As the minutes pass his mom got that look that only a mother can get when she knows her son is going to get his heartbroken. It was 20 minutes past time and it seemed like no one was coming. Michaels mom tried to think of people that she could call to make the party work, but as she was dialing the phone the doorbell rang and at the door was Ms. Sharp. In Michaels eyes the party was a roaring success. They ate cake and ice cream and played some party games. Finally it was time to open the presents. When they were all laid out on the table Michaels heart sank. There were no presents big enough to be his Optimus Prime. He rallied well and put on his biggest smile. He opened a couple of cards from relatives and one from Ms. Sharp and netted $15 from them. When he had opened them all he thanked everyone in the room. But his mom started smiling, Michael, she said, This isnt all of your presents. I think there may be one more in there in the closet. Michael was ecstatic. He leaped from his chair and dashed to the closet. He tore open the door and there in the floor was a box that was just the right size. He whooped as only a 10 year-old boy can whoop and did a little dance right there in the hall. Then he dove on the present. Wrapping paper went flying in all directions it looked like the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Toons had gotten hold of a present. When finally all of the wrapping paper was gone there it was shining in red and chromehis Optimus Prime. He opened it immediately and didnt put it down until he laid it beside him in bed that night. As she was leaving the party Ms. Sharp had stopped and talked to Michael. You really love that thing dont you? she asked. Yes, maam he said and his eyes filled with tears at the joy that bubbled up inside of him. Ms. Sharps own eyes started to tear up to, and the two of them laughed at the silliness of the moment. Take care of that now she told him right before she left. I got a cabbage patch doll for my 10th birthday, and I didnt take very good care of her. I carried her everywhere I went, but one day I left her somewhere, I guess in the park and I never saw here again. She paused for a moment before she said, I really missed that doll. So you take care of your Octrogus Prime thing.

Dont worry Ms. Sharp, Michael said, Ill take care of it. At the breakfast table on Monday morning Michaels mother said, O Mikey, we forgot to get Ms. Sharp a present. No we didnt, Michael said, I rode my bike to WalMart and got her something yesterday. He dashed out of the room. When he came back he had a oddly shaped little package that he had wrapped in the Sunday comic. See, he said, I ever wrapped it myself. Well his mom was a little nervous about what he could have gotten, but he seemed so happy about it she just let him go. When he got to school he put his present next to all of the other ones. They were all wrapped in nice neat packages, with real wrapping paper and even real bows. Michael was a little embarrassed by his present so he put it in the back. When it came time for lunch all of the students were sitting around discussing their presents. They said stuff like pots and pans, and towels and such. Then Brad said, I brought her a Microwave. And all of the other little children ooh and ah over it. Michael is surprised, How did you afford something like that? he blurts out. What? Brad asks. How did you afford to get her a microwave you must have been saving for a year for that. Well I didnt pay for it. Brad said, I mean Ms. Sharp goes my church so my parents decided to get her something nice thats all. But thats cheating. Michael says, his voice cracked a little as he tried to keep from crying. Cheating, Brad asks, No one here bought her a present with their own money. He looked around at the confirming nods. Michael doesnt know what to say. He puts his head down and the other kids start to laugh at him. Just then Tommy Radcliff sitting one table over laughed so hard at his own joke that milk came out of his nose so all of the attention left Michael. He didnt even look up at Tommy and his milk shooting nose. He just kept his head down and tried to think of a way to get out of school. The time of the party came, and the principle came wheeling the presents in on a big cart and singing happy birthday. Michael slumps back into his chair. He sees his ugly present sitting there like trash among all of the other pretty presents and he wants to just die. Ms. Sharp begins to dig through the presents opening this one and that one and making comments on each. When she opened the Microwave she could only manage a small thank you Brad because she was so stunned. Michael noticed that she passed over his present several times to pick the prettier ones. She doesnt even want to open it, he thought. Maybe she will just ignore it and I can take it back when I leave.

She finally opened all of the presents but his. Then she said, Now Ive saved the best for last. And began to open Michaels present. As she pull off the comic wrapping her eyes began to water. Then real tears began to run down her face. Oh great, Michael thought, she hates it so bad she is crying. As the present came out of the wrapping the others kids begin to snicker slightly and Michael slips nearly below his desk. Just then the bell rang and he ran with all of his might for the door. Michael wait! Ms. Sharp calls just as he makes it to the door. He stopped and slumped back into the room. He stood before her desk as the rest of the students filed past him. The tears are still running down her face as she holds tight to her present. (slight pause here) She cries as she hold onto her new Cabbage Patch Doll. I cant believe you got this for me, she said. Im sorry, he said in a whisper, Ill take it back if you want me to. Take it back! Its the best present I have ever gotten. I just want to know how you paid for it. I used what I got at my birthday. He said the fear in his voice turning to pride. I was there, she said, You didnt get this much money. I know, he answered, but I figured that I had lots of toys and you didnt have any so I took back my Optimus Prime so that I could buy that for you. Thank you. She said and her tears were flowing again. I know how much this cost you. I will cherish it for the rest of my life. And Michael left the room that day feeling better than he ever did in his life. The Debriefing: 2 Samuel 24:18-25 Michaels gift was special not because of what it was, but because of what it cost him to give it. All of the rest of the children were giving gifts their parents had bought. It didnt cost them anything. Michael was willing to pay the price. 18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, "Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. 20 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Then Araunah said, "Why has my lord the king come to his servant?" And David said, "To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people." 22 Now Araunah said to David, "Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever [seems] good to him. Look, [here are] oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. 23 "All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king." And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept you." 24 Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy [it] from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to

the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel. I think many Christians in churches today are giving gifts that cost them nothing. For many Christians they look at their church attendance, and good deeds and all that stuff, and really it doesnt cost them a whole lot. They arent giving up much to be there. Just maybe some free time, a party now and then, and a couple of extra hours sleep on Sunday morning. It isnt like you dont like God, actually you think you are impressing him, but you are giving what is left of you day instead of your first fruits. You are doing all that you can for you, and then at the end of that if there is time you are offering that to God. God isnt asking for your leftovers. He wants all of you, your first fruits. We have to stop being like Brad, offering a couple of Sundays a month and feeling like we are really doing something for God. God doesnt need you, but he wants you, for your sake, to give. This may cost you; your money your time your comfort your whole heart. This isnt saying that you have to sacrifice to get God to love you. He already loves you. This doesnt mean that this sacrifice will save you. You are already saved. It means that when you offer to God an offering that comes from you--one that you bought with a high price, you wont be able to measure the return that you get. You have that opportunity today, to offer to God not gifts that you have lying around, but a gift that cost you something. He has already given you the greatest gift in the world when he sent His Son to die for you. You can choose to keep giving gifts that dont cost anything, or you can jump into the joy that comes from giving all you have to God - with both feet. If you begin to give to God all of who you are, you will be able to walk into life just like Michael, knowing you have given the gift of your heart to the one who loves you with all of His.