There are some gifts that Hallmark simply does not make a “Thank you” card for. While a nice note is probably a sufficient response to the golf shirt you got for Christmas, some things simply go beyond our ability to adequately express our appreciation. Ultimately, I think the gifts that are beyond a “thank you” are gifts of life.
As I sit in our living room tonight, I am very mindful of a gift of life that my wife, Kimberly, will receive from her sister, Angie, tomorrow. Tomorrow, Angie will donate one of her kidneys to Kimberly. Without medical treatment, my wife would die. Angie’s gift will bring life. Her act of selfless love (with the full support of her husband and kids) is a gift beyond a “thank you.” We would love to write the perfect note, buy the perfect present, or communicate in the perfect way our deep appreciation, awe, and thanks . . . but nothing quite seems right. Nothing is quite enough.
As I ponder this gift, my heart and mind are drawn to another story of love that goes beyond a “thank you.” As I think of Angie’s gift, I see her gift resting in the shadow of a cross. 2,000 years ago, the Son of God bore the weight of my sin on His back as He carried a cross up Golgotha’s hill. Jesus’ death brings me life. His righteousness was transplanted into my dying, sinful self. His gift of love changed my life. His gift of love can change your life as well. When you think of His death for us, how are we to adequately say “thank you”? Of course we cannot. No card says it right, no gift could repay. His gift simply goes beyond a thank you.
The more I think about these “beyond a thank you” kind of gifts, the more I observe a few things about how to respond:
- We are to recognize the gift for what it is . . . a very real demonstration of love. It has been so touching for me these past few days to see Kimberly and Angie together. They are sisters . . . a bond deeper than shopping trips, toenail paintings, and prayers (though they have participated in all three this week). They love each other with a deep love. The gift of the kidney feels so natural when this dynamic is understood. The same is true of Jesus love of us. When we understand that “God so loved the world . . .” we understand why He sent His Son to die for it.
- We are to recognize that the inability for us to repay the gift is precisely what makes it beautiful. It is difficult to receive. Pride always wants to make us think that we either deserve what we get or that we earned it ourselves. “Beyond thank you” gifts are an affront to our pride. The very nature of these major gifts is that they are more than we could ever repay. Angie’s gift of a kidney is something that we will never be able to repay. Jesus gift of salvation is something we can never earn through good deeds. Rather than becoming depressed or distressed at this notion, we should marvel at it as something beautiful. When I visited the Grand Canyon, I did not reject it because I could not build it, I took pictures of it because it was so awesome. As we stand on the edge of this transplant, my heart is touched by the beauty of Angie’s gift. As I reflect upon my salvation in Christ that I did not earn and cannot repay I am awestruck by the beauty of His sacrifice.
So, please join me in observing this beautiful gift of love that Angie is offering Kimberly . . . and as you observe it, know that there is One who offers you a “transplant” that you and I so desperately need. His beautiful gift brings us life because He loves us.
Though the words are inadequate: Thank you Angie, and praise the Lord.
I’ll post more tomorrow with details and updates as things progress . . .