I met Kathy in the autumn of 2005, when I was new to our church and feeling a bit friendless. It was Easter 2006, so I had only known Kathy for a few months. We were chatting about our Easter-meal plans. I think I was planning on making a ham, but I don’t remember. Kathy’s mother, Charlotte, was flying over for the holiday. Others in her family were coming, too (I think—my memory is fuzzy on that). I do remember very clearly that Kathy ordered a ham from Honeybaked. I drooled when she told me.
“Oooh!” I said, still drooling. “Are you going to make split-pea soup with the ham bone?” I loved making split-pea soup from ham bones. I imagined how ham stock made with a Honeybaked Ham would taste.
“Nah, I’m not into that,” Kathy answered.
Several days later, after Easter, I was doing this or that in the kitchen when my doorbell rang. My doorbell never rings unless it’s a solicitor, so I approached the front door with my guard up.
Sock-footed, I walked stealthily to the door and looked through the peephole. Immediately my guard went down; it was Kathy! The furrowed-brow wrinkles above my eyes migrated and turned into smiling crow’s feet at the sides of my eyes. I opened the door. In her hands was something in a plastic bag, the kind you get from Safeway or King Soopers.
The first words out of her mouth: “I brought you a ham bone!”
Wide-eyed and wordless, I took the bag.
“I even left quite a bit of the meat on it, too,” Kathy explained.
I never knew how much a picked-over ham bone would mean to me. It meant she was listening. It meant that one day, in her own kitchen, cleaning after a big family Easter dinner, she thought of me. It meant she remembered I liked ham bones for split pea soup. It meant I was a friend.
I often don’t realize who I am or how God has blessed or gifted me until someone else recognizes it and expresses the recognition in real actions.
Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David with cedar trees and carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a house for David. And David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.
(1 Samuel 5:11-12)
What Hiram did was a form of encouragement. I have friends like this, friends who have helped me see who I am, what I should be doing, what I am to them. Friends who send me cedar trees (or ham bones). Thank God.
What cedar tree could I send? Whom should I be encouraging in this way?
Lord, I have received it. How can I give it? To whom?
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