The other night, a friend of mine and brother in Christ named Danny called to say he was bringing over a late birthday present for my 12-year-old autistic son, Parks.
He had called my wife earlier and found out Parks' favorite Christian singer was Steven Curtis Chapman. He also learned that a favorite CD of his, All Things New, had blown out the car window last year and been damanged beyond playability. The gift was to replace this CD.
Parks was a little under the weather. I had to keep him awake a little late for his visitor, who showed up with another friend, Gino, in tow. Both men are currently staying at a halfway house for former drug addicts and alcoholics. We have been trying to get Gino to come to church with us for many weeks, but he is always too busy. So I was a little surprised to see him.
Parks lit up when I handed him the CD, trying to peel the cellophane off with his fingernails. I led the three of them upstairs to play it on our computer. I was a little suprised the guys wanted to hang around to see him listening to the CD.
As the music started to play, Parks predictably began to dance, spin, applaud and laugh. He signed "good, good" over and over, his eyes alight with joy.
What I would not have predicted was the transformation I saw in the two older listeners. Danny was grinning from ear to ear, watching every move Parks made.
And Gino was unashamedly wiping tears away, first from one eye, then the other, back and forth, smiling all the while.
I don't know a lot about Gino's history. On the surface, he seems pretty jovial. But sometimes the cares of the world etch his face like the myriad of tattoos that encircle most of his body.
That night, thought, all was forgotten in the spinning joy of a 12-year-old listening to a CD, as if for the first time.
And there I was, just a bystander, being treated to my own immersion in this joyful exchange, wiping tears from my own eyes as I saw God working.
Days later, thinking about that night, I thought also of the day Jesus fed 5,000 people from five loaves of bread and two fish. What a joyful occasion that must have been, to witness such a miracle. The 12 disciples at first may have felt like they were bystanders to the event, but it was they who carried the baskets of food to the assembled people.
Then look what happened.
"So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them. - Luke 9:17
God had poured out an abundance of blessing on 5,000 people. And there was enough left to bless the disciples as well.
That is the way God works. We are always living in the midst of plenty.
If we don't feel as if we are included in the current miracle, God knows better.
Al Boyce is a former writer and reporter for The Associated Press. He lives in Raleigh, NC, where he now writes for God.
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