The Lucky Marble: A Sweet Story
The amber lights glowed and the soft rumbling of background conversation swept through the venue as tinkling silverware and wine glasses chimed in a beautiful discordant harmony. I sat at the bar sipping water, talking with my mother, laughing, and catching the news on the large looming screen that glimmered rays of neon in the corner of my eye.
This was a planned event, and to my delight I would soon be seeing my sister, brother-in-law, and my darling niece and nephew. It was one of the few times our family would be together.
And I had no idea what awaited me that night…
I have just celebrated my forty-second birthday. Whoo-hoo! I had requested to go to my favorite restaurant downtown with my family. All obliged. I was so excited to find my niece and nephew arriving bundled in coats and bouncing with the childish exuberance only afforded with the playful concoction of crisp winter air and warm budding youth.
The very moment my niece arrived she exclaimed, “Aunt Erin, I want to give you my favorite marble!” Up flew her hand as she placed it in mine. I gasped, rapt with surprise and delight. It was her favorite color: white with a beautiful blue ribbon swirl. That’s when she said, “Take care of it. It’s my lucky one!”
Oh my goodness… my heart exploded.
Now I will tell you, I’ve both given and received many, many gifts in my lifetime, and this may be just the one that goes down in history as the very sweetest and most genuine. It certainly is one of the most memorable. I had to immediately stuff my gushing emotions lest my face be awash in a flush of tears. After an evening of celebrating over steak and red velvet cheesecake; coffee and conversation – I went home and cried, holding that precious marble in my hand. And I vowed to never lose it.
God spoke something very precious to me in that quiet moment with her marble in my hand, and He revealed His heart to me.
The gifts we give are not measured in their monetary value.
They are measured by the heart with which we give them.
Of course, we know that’s true. But there’s a stubborn human and even “adult” part of us that does not truly believe it. Somehow as we grow up working numerous jobs, climbing professional ladders, watching bank accounts, and juggling bills with monetary gains – we become blind to what is truly valuable. We lose sight. We surrender our childish innocence to the vast world of the elaborate and opulent. And that heart that gives so selflessly and carelessly with the purest joy is sadly sacrificed on the altar of duty and religious obligation. We are taught to give what’s of great worth. We are chided, poked, and prodded to empty our pocketbooks. We are told to sacrifice until it hurts. We are manipulated from the pulpits that woo us to give so we can get. Everyone in this world wants a piece of us, including the Church. Sometimes we just get tired of giving. And honestly, we don’t have any more to give. Yet we are all too motivated to give out of our abundance the extravagant gifts that will bless our loved ones, thinking that if we can just do a bit more… perhaps it will be enough to send them over the moon with the hopes that they’ll somehow know or grasp the infinite reality of just how much we really love them…
As if they needed to be convinced, and our love proven.
Is that what it’s become all about? Really?
We love to give for love’s sake. That’s the joy of giving. Tell me I have to, and I won’t. But when I want to, believe me, I’ll find the money. Rich or poor, I’ll give until I’m flat broke. I love to give.
I’ve always been one to go ‘over the top’. More is always, well… more. I love extravagant. I love big. I love to overdo it. The more the merrier. I’ve always been the one to go overboard… even recklessly so.
I remember telling my mother not to worry about getting me anything for my birthday. Truly, I’m at the age when I’m pretty well set. In no way do I intend to sound arrogant, but there’s just not a lot that I genuinely need.
But that darling little marble launched me over the moon that night. I was undone.
It’s value is not in the marble itself, but in the one who gave it, and the heartfelt delight and self-sacrifice in which it was so sweetly presented. That marble is precious because it came from the heart of my only niece who loved me so much that she gave up her lucky blue and white, ribbon-laced marble. And I’ll never forget her shining face and the gleam of joy in her eyes. I don’t know if you’ve ever received a gift like this, but there’s nothing like it. In no way would I dare put a monetary value on this gift. I couldn’t do it if I even tried.
I wouldn’t dare.
I even talked with my Dad, sharing my thoughts about how I might display it just to protect it. A glass case? A golf tee? I was so awestruck by it. It deserved such high regards.
But, no. That was not its purpose. She didn’t give that marble to me for display, and to do so would cheapen it. She gave it to me so I would always have it with me wherever I go. I can tell you, I carry it everywhere.
And truly, it is the most beautiful marble I’ve ever seen.
So next time you want to give something precious, please don’t be inclined to measure it by its monetary value. Please don’t. I beg you, don’t. Because God doesn’t. God measures our gifts’ worth by our hearts; the delight and love with which we give them; and the self-sacrificing joy that make them uniquely ours. The smallest most insignificant thing is what is most precious to Him. It sends Him over the moon.
To you it might seem so small. But when He holds it in His all-powerful sovereign hands, I bet it just reduces Him to tears.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7, KJV).
Cheers & Shalom,