A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dave's Deep Thoughts: The Sacrificial Gift

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

My parents were simple people.
Both were raised on farms and knew the meaning of hard work.

As their four children began to grow,
they knew that their small farm would not support the family.
My mother took a night shift job at a local factory.
My dad took on a second shift job so that he could farm in the mornings.
There was never an hour in a day when one of my parents was not working to support us.

We lived very simple lives.
We received everything we ever needed,
an occasionally things that we wanted. 

But it was the gift that I never expected, that I will never forget.

When I graduated from college in 1979,
I came home to a new piano sitting in the family room of the farmhouse.
Gone was the old upright that was missing 3 keys.
In its place was a Yamaha Studio piano.

For the uniformed, a Yamaha Studio piano is a very good piano.

I was stunned.
It was an extravagant graduation gift.
It was a gift that not only reflected my parents’ love for me,
but revealed how much they had come to understand my passion for music.

My plea as a child to take piano lessons, 
fell on deaf ears for three years,
because in the 60’s, boys didn’t play the piano.

During my high school years,
I often participated in recitals and competitions
and at least one of my parents couldn’t attend because they were working.

A couple of years ago,
I took my college piano professor out to dinner to celebrate his retirement.
He told me a story I had never known.

Just before my senior recital in college,
he had a discussion with my parents.
He told them how much I had grown as a musician during my four years in college
and how proud they should be of my accomplishments.

My parents have always been proud of the accomplishments of all four children,
but on that day, 
my professor believed that my parents’ appreciation for my passion deepened.
It might be the reason that a Yamaha Studio piano arrived in our farm house two months later.

This past week, I sold that piano.
I sold it because I now have a baby grand Yamaha that I was able to purchase,
courtesy of a recent sale of the family farm.

My parents literally bought me both pianos.

The piano movers came last Friday.
Just before they arrived, I spent a few last moments with my longtime ebony friend.
I thought of all the hours of both enjoyment and hard work spent on that bench.
I played a few pieces 
and finished with one of my parent’s favorite hymns
to thank them for loving me so extravagantly.

As they moved the piano out of the house,
all I could think of was SACRIFICE.

All those nights that my mom left for work at 10:30pm.
All those long days  that my dad worked literally from sunup to sundown and beyond.
All to see that their children prospered and lived well.

That is a parent’s love.
I think most parents would gladly give up their lives
if they knew their child’s life was at stake.

I don’t think it a coincidence that this occurred as we enter Holy Week.
In a few days, the church takes time to remember the sacrifice.

How far will a loving Father go to give eternal life
to the lives that He has created?

How much pain will the Son endure
to pay a debt that we can’t possibly pay?

Amidst all the jelly beans, Easter baskets,
family gatherings, and new clothes this weekend,
take time to ponder how extravagantly God loves you.

Enough to give the ultimate sacrifice,
so that we can live well in this life,
and in the life beyond our earthly death.

Somewhere nearby,
a seven year old is now playing the same keys I once played,
because his parents love him extravagantly.

May you create your own song this week,
in praise and worship of a God who loves you enough
that He is willing to die for you.

“For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish,
but have eternal life.”
                                                 John 3:16

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