My husband and I were on the beach in Nassau, Bahamas. All day long we had bartered with the locals. "Don't pay full price for anything," the cruise director had coached us that morning before we left the ship. Since it had taken us nine months and a temporary job cleaning a dental office to save for the cruise itself, we weren't about to misspend the small amount of discretionary income we had brought with us.
We had bargained for a cab ride to the beach, negotiated a better price for our lounge chairs, and had even tried unsuccessfully to buy two bottles of cold water for the price of one. We said no to at least twenty different locals walking the beach trying to sell us hair braiding, key chains, jet ski rides, and fancy drinks in coconut shells. That's why I was mystified at my husband's lengthy exchange with Sam, a thin, dark-skinned young man of about 20.
He was selling painted turtles made from coconut shells. "Please sir," he said, "my mother makes these, and we're trying to raise money to buy a bus for our school."
"What do you think?" my husband asked me.
What I thought was Seven dollars for a painted coconut shell? What in the world would I do with it? I'd rather have that bottle of water I just said "no" to. And there probably is no school bus fund. This guy's playing on your sympathy. He sees "Sucker" written all over your face.
What I said was, "It's up to you, honey."
Since I hadn't said "no," the young man shared a few more details about the bus fund and his mother, and eventually walked away with seven of our hard-earned dollars in his pocket.
As my husband presented the turtle to me with a flourish and a slight bow for dramatic effect, I realized he was giving me a lesson that was worth much more than seven dollars.
Throughout my husband's conversation with Sam, all I saw was the value of the turtle in comparison with the value of our money. David saw the value of Sam.
Whether Sam's mother had painted the turtle or he bought it from a "Cheap Souvenirs for Dumb Americans" catalog, whether there was a school bus fund or Sam was going to pocket the money didn't really matter to David. God touched his heart and prompted him to give to Sam. The turtle was incidental.
Scripture tells us to "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (Luke 6:38).
My husband's generous heart toward Sam stood in stark contrast to my own self-centered one. He was a powerful example of how God often calls us to look beyond the surface and into someone's heart. It made me wonder how many other people I walk past without ever stopping to consider whether God might want to use me in their lives.
Every morning I pray the words of Ephesians 5:25-26 for my husband. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy." I realized my prayer had been answered that day on the beach. God had used David to bring me one step closer to holiness through his powerful example of kind-hearted generosity.
And I have a lovely painted turtle to remind me of the lesson I learned that day on the beach.
You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture.
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• Is my situation hopeless?
• If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray?
• Why have you allowed this to happen to me?
• No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit?
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