How Do You Say Thanks for Too Big a Gift?

Just before Christmas I heard an outstanding message by Pastor Chuck Swindoll on our local Christian radio station, KKLA 99.5 FM. He was discussing the definition of gift, with baby Jesus in mind. He started with the Merriam-Webster definition of gift; something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation. I felt this was an excellent definition. A gift is given without any expectation of compensation or anything in return. In the case of the gift of baby Jesus, Chuck went on to say that sometimes we receive extraordinary gifts that dwarf anything we could give or do in return and gifts that make a simple thank you seem like not quite enough.

This is how I feel about the many generous contributors to Union Rescue Mission. You
overwhelmingly responded with year-end gifts and helped us reach a daunting $4.5 Million goal! We had to reach this goal in order to move ahead with launching a much needed jobs program for our graduate men and women, and moving ahead with our plans to relocate 12 moms and up to 30 precious children from the dangerous streets of Skid Row to the safety and peace of Hope Gardens. There was absolutely no way we could do this without your extraordinary gifts. We were completely powerless on our own. Your extraordinary gifts dwarf anything we could do or say to properly say thank you, but all we can do is say Thank You, from the bottom of our hearts! We can also express our thanks by helping URM move ahead with our good plans to bless our graduates and our moms and children.

In Acts 20:35, Paul says that Jesus taught, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. I would agree with that completely. I’d add, “It is much easier to give than to receive”. It is easier to be on the giving end and it is more difficult and humbling to be on the receiving end, especially when the gift is extraordinary and overwhelms anything you could do to return the favor.

With all of the practice I’ve had with 34 years of ministry and 34 years of depending on the gifts of others you’d think that I would have developed a certain level of humility and become an expert on saying “Thanks”. However, when the gift is too big, like the gift of baby Jesus, or too big, like gifts of a much needed $4.5 Million, my words of thanks do not seem like enough.

I’m getting ready and struggling with accepting and saying “thanks” to yet another too big of a gift. My wife, Bonnie, is getting ready to donate her kidney to me and give me the gift of a longer life. I get tears in my eyes even writing this. It’s a humbling gift, and causes me to crumble. It’s so big and such a sacrifice that I’ve tried every way that I can to talk her out of doing it – to no avail. I’ve told her that I don’t mind the 12 hours a week of dialysis, that I feel fine, and that I appreciate the extra time I have during dialysis to write personal thank you notes to our URM contributors. I thought I had her on the ropes and ready to say no in front of the surgeon when we were discussing potential complications, but then the surgeon said to me, in front of her, “As a type 1 diabetic, you only have a 50% chance of lasting only five years on dialysis. That sealed the deal.  We find out Friday, January 4th, the January date of the transplant surgery.

Please keep us in your prayers. Pray for the protection of my wife, Bonnie, as she shares this too big of a gift with me. Pray for me, that I will somehow know how to humbly accept this too big of a gift, and live up to being the man that she must think I am. Sometimes, it seems, thanks is not enough.

Thank you!

Rev. Andy Bales, CEO

6 thoughts on “How Do You Say Thanks for Too Big a Gift?

  1. amy on

    Oh my Andy, this is big. I would not normally have tapped my android to read this. I will talk to the Lord about you all this month.

  2. Jim and Judy Halvorsen on

    Our whole family is together at Tahoe Donner and thanking God for both of you. We love you and feel so blessed by your ministry into our family for so many years. Count us on the prayer team as you go through this together. We pray for a blessed 2013 and many more in God’s service. <3

  3. Irons c. Gonzalez on

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also struggle with this same issue. Often times I feel that I’m not worthy of receiving any gifts. I always ask myself, how can I ever repay or return the favor? However it occurred to me, that most people give out of the kindness of their hearts, and God manifests himself through the gracious generosity of others. I realize that I can show my gratitude through prayer. Also a simple thank you goes along way, and if at all possible, throw in a hug and a smile. In your case a big kiss is definitely called for! God bless you and I will keep you in my prayers.

  4. Thank you, dear friends, for your very kind, thoughtful words. Bless you!

  5. Diane Shaw on

    Your story brought tears to my heart. The Lord has blessed you with a servant minded wife, and the Lord Jesus has blessed the people of Skid Row, and others, with you, a servant of God. As you begin this new season of faith, hope, and trust in our magnificent LORD, may the Lord continue to reveal his LOVE towards you, bringing you closer to him each and every day. I am praying for your and your wife, as you both step out in love, and in the calling God has for you. Have an awesome day!

  6. Lisa Salan on

    Dear Andy,

    I will be praying for you and Bonnie.

    Although I know longer live in CA, after we lost our home 3 1/2 years ago, I still pray for and try to contribute to URM. Your heart for people and the gospel is so encouraging. Long before losing our home my husband and I had a big heart for the homeless. I used to always think, there but for God’s grace go I .

    Thank you for all you do. Bless you and your wife; praying for your surgery, amazing recovery and healing.

    Love always in Christ,
    Lisa Salan

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