Faith transforms us. Sometimes the transformations are dramatic and unexpected; sometimes they are gentle and anticipated; at other times they are the result of intentional decisions. Even though we are energized by God’s Spirit, it is still our choice to be transformed–to open the gift.
Every life choice is a potential transformation. One choice that shows up more than once as we grow older is the pick between “living to get, or living to give.”
Faith chooses living to give. It doesn’t spend much time praying for good things to flow toward us; it chooses to act, to show, to demonstrate how good things flow out from us. Make this choice and God reveals secrets and works wonders. With HIM life is unstoppable.
God uses our choices to open doors and to change our hearts–that’s transformation.
Paul reminds us of this grace-giving factor. “Brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 NLT
God started it all. Giving was the first act of creation. It was the original experience, the gift of life. We received HIS gift, not to keep it, but to give it.
God calls us to be unstoppable gifts. It’s HIS plan. And Christmas is a terrific reminder of the calling.
Before he died, Larry Stewart announced that he was the Secret Santa who has been doling out $100 bills anonymously to the needy in cities across America for 30 years.
In the winter of 1971, Stewart was working as a door-to-door salesman in the little town of Houston, MS. After the company he was working for went out of business, he ran out of money. He hadn’t eaten for almost two days when he went to the Dixie Diner and ordered a big breakfast, then acted as if he had lost his wallet.
Ted Horn, the diners owner, waiter, and cook, came to Stewart and picked up a $20 bill off the floor. “Son, you must have dropped this,” he said. “It was like a fortune to me,” Stewart commented and then said to himself, “Thank you, Lord.”
He paid for the breakfast, left a tip, pushed his car to a gas station and left town. Then it dawned on him: Nobody had dropped the money, but Horn had helped him out in a way that wouldn’t embarrass him. “Right then, I just made a promise. I said, ‘Lord, if you ever put me in a position to help other people, I will do it.’ ”
Eventually, in 1979 he moved to Kansas City, where he started helping the less fortunate. Right before Christmas, he stopped at a drive-in in Independence, MO., and ordered a hamburger and soft drink. He gave the carhop a $20 bill and said, “Keep the change.”
“You’re kidding,” she said. “No, Merry Christmas,” he said. She started sobbing and said, “Sir, you have no idea what this means to me.”
He has no strict criteria for who receives the money. He sometimes works with social service agencies, or he has police officers and firefighters help him identify people who have been devastated by a fire or other calamity and gives the victims $1,000 or more. But he hands the money to everyday people on the street, in diners, Laundromats, pawnshops, and fast-food places.
Stewart never forgot the diner owner. In December 1999, he tracked down Horn in Tupelo, MS., and gave him a bank envelope with $10,000 in it. Horn opened it and said, “Oh, my Lord. You don’t have to do this.” He tried to hand it back, but Stewart refused.
Only death stopped him, but before he died he passed on the calling…an army has picked up the slack.
Are you open for transformation, for a change of habit, for a secret calling? You have already been gifted. So, get on board.
Join the growing number this Christmas who are accepting the call Make the choice; be a “secret santa.”