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Gifts Pleasing to God

One of the things my father taught all his sons was how to use a crosscut saw. His daddy and his daddy's daddy had taught their sons, and my father was not going to let this rite of passage for rural Southern manhood end with him. One brisk fall morning, we began sawing on a log that we did not know had a rotten core. When we had just sawed partially through the log, it split and fell off the sawing frame. The timber hit the ground so hard that a large piece was sheared off the rotten log. In my childhood imagination the unusual shape of the sheared piece looked like a horse head. It so captured my interest that I took it home with me after that day of sawing.

For my father's next birthday, I attached a length of two-by-four board to that log head, attached a rope tail, and stuck on some sticks to act as legs. Then I halfway hammered in a dozen or so nails down the two-by-four, put a bow on it, and presented it to my father. When he took off the wrapping, he smiled and said, "Thank you, it's wonderfulÂ… what is it?"

"It's a tie rack, Dad." I said. "See, you can put ties on those nails going down the side of the horse's body." My father smiled again and thanked me. Then he leaned the horse against his closet wall (because the stick legs could not keep it standing upright) and for years he used it as a tie rack.

Now when I first gave my father that rotten-log-horse tie rack, I really thought it was "good." In my childish mind this creation was a work of art ready for the Metropolitan Museum. But as I matured, I realized that my work was not nearly as good as I had once thought. In fact, I understood ultimately that my father had received and used my gift not because of its goodness but out of his goodness. In a similar way our heavenly Father receives our gifts, not so much because they deserve his love, but because he is love.

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