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Posts Tagged ‘paying it forward’

‘I can’t believe I’m getting a piano!’ our daughter commented at her recent birthday celebration.

A piano of her own was something our daughter had wanted for a long time. There has always been one in our home and, as a child, she had music lessons. Then as a teenager, she had chosen to have more, this time just to enjoy learning to play certain songs she loved. Soon, however, she moved out of home and eventually married and had children, yet she still loved to sit down at our piano from time to time when she visited and play.

Then one day recently, a friend of mine put a post on Facebook, asking if anyone would be interested in having her piano, as she planned to move and could not take it with her. At first, I hesitated. I knew our daughter could not afford to pay anything for it. And surely my friend would not be prepared to give it away?

Yet that is exactly what happened.

‘I just want my piano to go to a good home,’ she explained. ‘Someone kindly left it to me in her will, so I’d like to pass it on now in the same spirit it was passed onto me.’

Eventually, a removalist was engaged and that piano wended its way to our daughter’s home, where it fitted in a corner of her living room as if it belonged. After a tuning, it will sound even better. And one day, our grandchildren will hopefully learn to play as well.

Recently too, I witnessed another happy moment in our daughter’s life when our daughter-in-law passed on several boxes of girls’ clothes to her that her own daughters had long grown out of.

‘Oh, that’s so good!’ our daughter exclaimed. ‘The other day, my friend passed on lots of excellent boys’ clothes to us too.’

As it happens, many of these have hardly been worn and are designer label clothes our daughter could not afford to buy. So, once her son and daughter have grown out of them, she passes them on in turn to other friends who are always grateful to receive them for their children.

Seeing these events unfold in our daughter’s life caused me to reflect on my own attitude towards passing on not only material possessions that may benefit others but also all those spiritual blessings I have received. Sometimes, I suspect I like to cling to things that have been and are precious to me, rather than think of others’ needs. Sometimes, I can be stingy rather than generous. In particular, sometimes I can forget how someone bothered to share the good news of Jesus with me, rather than keep it to themselves. And sometimes, I can even forget how freely God’s love and grace were poured out on me and how this love and grace needs to flow on through me to others.

May I always remember that generosity of heart I witnessed recently and pay it forward myself with joy and gratitude.

Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. Proverbs 11:24-25 The Message

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This past weekend, I attended the Sydney book launch of My China Mystery, written by my friend Marion Andrews, about her father’s experiences as a missionary in China and also as part of a British Gurkha regiment during the war. Marion and I have known each other since high school days – I have many fond memories of travelling across Brisbane together to our old high school, wearing hats, gloves and black stockings as the rules stated we must, even on the hottest and stickiest summer days! So I enjoyed being able to provide some of the food for the afternoon tea and helping out in general. Besides, Marion’s home is in Tamworth and since she needed to be in Sydney for the previous week, she had no opportunity to bake anything for the occasion.

Yet as I thought about it, I realised there was something else driving me to help in this way. You see, I myself have five published novels, so have held a variety of book launches of my own over the past five years. And for at least three of these, I was so grateful for the help my friends gave me, freeing me up to speak and then to sell and sign my books. I remember clearly how they prepared food, arrived early to set up, helped me decorate the venue and set out the food in a much nicer way than I would ever have thought of – not to mention cleaning up afterwards.

So now I was passing on the blessing – ‘paying it forward’, as the movie of that title showed people doing. This is what we are encouraged to do in Scripture, time and time again, in different ways. For starters, Jesus tells us in Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you. My friends had already ‘done’ it for me – so now I was to ‘do’ the same for others. And Paul writes in Ephesians 4:4: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. At my launches, my friends looked after my interests – so now it was my opportunity to look after my friend’s interests in a small way at least.

But more than that, Jesus shows us clearly what our attitude needs to be when he instructed his twelve disciples how to act, before sending them out to minister (Matt 10:8) – ‘Freely you have received, freely give. And Jesus himself gave up everything, even his very life, for us. So what excuse do we have not to give to others as we are called on to do? Years ago, I was greatly challenged by Jesus’ parable about the unmerciful servant who was forgiven a huge debt he owed to the king but was not prepared to forgive another who owed him only some pitiful amount in comparison (Matt 18:21-35). Just as we are to forgive others as we have been forgiven, so I believe, in all our relationships with others, we are to treat them with the same grace we have received.

This week, I pray you too will have an opportunity to experience yet again the grace of passing it on, of ‘paying it forward’ in some way. And when you do, I’m sure you will discover, as I did yet again, how true it is that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

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