Thanks, Aunt Clara!

February 26th, 2008 • Category: My Favorite Scripture
by Ben Lamb

Today’s scripture: Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Ben Lamb):

One of the best presents I ever received taught me more about myself and about life than many of my college courses. One Christmas, Great-aunt Clara presented me with a pair of thick, tan, cotton socks.

Some family members and I went to visit the sweet lady and her Collie in their modest home during the late 1960’s. I could hardly wait to open the loot that she would shower upon us.

Then it happened. In front of everyone, I unwrapped a pair of dime-store socks. They couldn’t have cost more than 79 cents, and they were thick, too: the extra material would squeeze my feet inside my shoes. And they were tan: there’d be no hiding those monstrosities! A gift like this was at best a necessity — like underwear or toothpaste — and certainly not something “good.” Still, I was able to force out a “thank you” to her.

It was months before I condescended to wear those wretched things, and only because I had no other choice that day. I just knew the whole world would hang motionless in suspended time, gasping in horror as I lumbered around school, trying to hide those socks.

Later, I discovered that after the initial washing, they were the most soft socks I’d ever worn. I don’t know what treatment those cotton threads received, but they were almost like silk! I convinced myself that I could wear them a little more often — but only with my longest pants, of course — and nobody would be the wiser about them.

Shortly thereafter, I got a pair of shoes that rubbed one of my heels. No matter what Dad and I tried, we couldn’t get the mysterious problem solved as to why the one spot sometimes rubbed. But, the thickness of the socks eliminated the rubbing. I was genuinely sad when they became too threadbare to keep.

After Great-aunt Clara died in her 80’s, I learned that she was very close to having to rely on government assistant to meet her living expenses. She was a proud woman (in the good and noble sense) who had helped others all her life. For her to have to depend on assistance would have been a heart-breaking embarrassment to her. I then better appreciated the sacrifices she must have made in order to give presents of any cost to so many of her relatives at Christmas. But she never complained when giving them to us.

I’m now ashamed of how I acted in my heart when unwrapping those socks, and in retrospect, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Those socks taught me:

  • Monetary worth doesn’t measure true value.
  • Don’t be quick to judge a situation.
  • We don’t always know why people do what they do.
  • Greed is ugly.
  • It’s never too late to admit my mistakes.
  • God can use insignificant things as valuable learning tools.

Thank you, Aunt Clara, for those beautiful socks!

Thought for the day: Sock it to me, Lord, when I need a reminder of what’s really important in this life!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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