I noticed a lot of you liked my “Three Little Pigs” blog a while back. So since I am unable to post my blog series on Job until Thanksgiving, I want to share another story with you all.
This is a story about 5 kids.
Rachel was the popular girl. With a long blonde ponytail and big brown eyes, she was the girl that every boy thought he loved, and every girl wanted to look like her. She participated in soccer after school, had good grades, and was a very social and outgoing person. Everyone knew Rachel and everyone liked her.
Jacob was the nerdy boy in school. He loved to learn, but he looked kinda weird. With huge glasses on his face and retainers in his mouth, he wasn’t very attractive to his fellow classmates. Plus, he was a huge nerd and a teacher’s pet, so no one really liked him for that, but he had his core group of like-minded friends.
Henry was the school bully. He was much taller and bulkier than the rest of his classmates, so that he was kind of scary looking. His terrifying appearance made it difficult for him to make friends, and his lack of intelligence and social skills didn’t make it any easier. After a while, he noticed he could use his scary looks to intimidate others into doing his bidding. If he couldn’t have real friends, he could at least force others to be pretend friends with him.
Eric was that one kid in school – the one kid in the whole class that everyone knew would end up a serial killer one day. Eric was always picking fights with other students and acting out violently in class. Teachers couldn’t control him and the rest of the students simply tried their best to avoid him out of fear. No one knew why he acted this way, and no one wanted to find out. The kid was crazy. It was almost as if he liked the principal’s office.
Brett was the new kid in school. He was smart like Jacob, but sociable and handsome, which made him quickly liked by all who met him. No one really knew too much about Brett, but they sure did like him.
Now as it is with all 4th graders, birthday parties were a huge deal for these kids. Customarily, you were supposed to invite everyone from your class to your birthday. The more people that came, the more popular you were. The more extravagant your party was, the more popular you became. And, as fun as the games could be, as delicious as the cake, ice cream, and pizza were, the present-opening was the main event. The better the present you got for the host, the better friends you were with the host. It was a serious deal.
Rachel’s birthday was in October, the first of the five classmates. Her mom and dad had a lot of money, so she always threw extravagant parties. Everyone was always invited to her parties as was the custom (except she tended to break protocol by not inviting Eric. He was just too scary). Now one of the special parts of Rachel’s parties was that she sacrificially gave up gifts. Instead, she asked everyone to bring a donation of clothes for the homeless. Thus she gave up the most important rite of passage for the birthday girl – the opening of presents, and it made everyone admire her even more. She was a thoughtful girl, having been brought up Christian by her parents.
The day of the party came and everyone showed up, setting their gifts in their designated place. However, upon examining her presents during the party, Rachel noticed that Brett, the attractive new kid, had brought two presents. Wondering why this was, she asked him about the surplus of gifts. “One has clothes for the homeless as you requested,” Brett replied with a huge smile, “and the other one is for you.”
At this, Rachel was shocked and immediately told Brett that she could not accept Brett’s second, personal gift to her. In her mind, she didn’t deserve to live in extra comfort while others had nothing, so she told him to take it back. Hearing this, Brett’s face fell. Feeling rejected, he took his personal gift to Rachel and left the party prematurely.
Jacob’s birthday was in December, the second of the five classmates. As was customary, everyone from school was invited to Jacob’s party. But the whole school knew that his parties were pretty lame and nerdy, so normally only his friends would show up, plus maybe a few more. Jacob wasn’t like Rachel – he hadn’t been brought up in a Christian home and didn’t know anything besides the status quo of getting gifts for his birthday. However, it was commonly known that Jacob was quite the engineer and could make just about anything that he wanted. The challenge was getting Jacob something that he actually needed and couldn’t make on his own.
The day of the party came and many people showed up – more than normal actually. The biggest surprise guest, though, was Brett. He had earned himself a membership with the more popular crowd, yet he went to Jacob’s party. No popular kids went to Jacob’s parties. Yet Brett was there. However, when the appointed time came for Jacob to take his place at the head of the party and open his gifts, he came to Brett’s gift and opened it. Seeing what was inside, he immediately thought this gift was worthless to him, since he figured he could easily make one for himself. Angrily, he threw the gift back in Brett’s face and told him as much. What had been a huge smile of pride on Brett’s face quickly turned into a scorned frown. He took his gift and left the party.
Henry’s birthday was in February, the third of the five classmates. Per birthday party protocol, everyone from school was invited to Henry’s birthday party. However, since Henry was scary and a bully, rarely did many people come to his party. Henry, like Jacob, hadn’t been brought up in a Christian home. In fact, his parents were abusive drunks and their house was small and filthy. So not only did Henry expect presents from his guests, he also rarely got any, because few people would show up. In fact, to his recollection, Henry hadn’t gotten a birthday gift in the entire time he’d been at this school.
Anyway, the time for Henry’s party came and few people showed up. In fact most of the people who did show up only did so because they had been threatened by Henry that bad things would happen to them if they did otherwise. However, one unexpected guest did show up to Henry’s party, causing quite a stir. Brett hadn’t been threatened by Henry because of Brett’s popularity at the school, but he showed up to Henry’s party anyway. Even more, Brett had a gift for Henry. No one else had bothered to bring one.
Breaching protocol, Henry walked up to Brett and took the gift from him, with a look of combined gratefulness and surprise. Thinking again, though, he remembered that Brett was a popular kid. Suspecting that this might be a trick, Henry thrust the gift back into Brett’s hands and demanded that Brett open it. The anticipative smile that had been on Brett’s face immediately melted into one of downcast look of despair. He took his gift and left almost as suddenly as he had arrived.
Eric’s birthday was in April, the fourth of the five classmates. Eric didn’t really know birthday party protocol, so he just invited everyone at the whole school and anyone else he knew. Eric was brought up in the middle class, so everyone assumed that his parties were probably decent enough, but he was just too weird and scary. No one ever went to his parties. It normally just turned out to be Eric and his parents having a small celebration together, and on the following day, Eric would be even worse at school – which was saying a lot.
Well the day arrived for Eric’s party and sure enough, no one showed up. But that wasn’t a huge surprise to Eric and his parents, so they pulled out the pizza and began eating together – just the three of them. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Throwing a quizzical look at his parents, Eric ran to answer it. It was Brett – the formerly new kid who had vaulted himself into popularity at their school. Eric’s eyes widened with surprise and then narrowed in suspicion. But Brett maintained a wide smile of sincere joy, so Eric stepped aside to let Brett in. Brett stepped in and offered his gift to Eric, who grabbed it greedily and opened it emphatically – another breach in birthday protocol, but then again, Eric had never had a birthday guest, so who could have instructed him?
With greedy eyes, Eric tore open the gift and looked in wonder at what Brett had given him. Leaving his parents at the dinner table staring in amazement after the boys, Eric grabbed Brett’s hand (who was smiling violently) and went straight to his room where they spent the next several hours playing with Brett’s gift.
Brett’s birthday was in June, the last of the five classmates. Brett’s popularity and his rumored wealth had all the kids abuzz about the possibility of his upcoming birthday party after school was out. Every day their parents got the mail, they were hoping to receive an invitation to his party, but one never came. June moved into July and all the kids began to wonder if Brett was ever going to have a birthday party. Until one day when Eric (who actually started being a much friendlier person toward the end of the school year, and even made some friends) exclaimed that he had gotten one such invitation. The kids were astonished, because no one else had gotten one.
And they never did. Only Eric was invited to Brett’s birthday party.
This isn’t just a child’s story. This is life and more for all of us here on the earth. We have been offered a gift. The price has already been paid for it, and it is already wrapped and in our hands. All we have to do is accept it. So what do we do?
Some of us are like Rachel. We think we aren’t worthy enough to deserve such a gift, so we reject it.
Others of us are like Jacob. We think we can do it on our own and perhaps make it even better, so we throw the gift back in the Giver’s face.
Still others are like Henry. We want the gift given to us on our own terms and will accept nothing less, so we deny it.
There are also those of us like Eric. We may not fully understand what the gift is, but we know we need it, so we readily accept it.
It’s very simple. The gift is salvation. The Giver is Jesus. You are the birthday boy/girl. What kind of host will you be?