When I was little, we had very little money. There were a lot of gifts in growing up poor – appreciation, creativity, ingenuity, simplicity. My parents made it fun – I remember the sparkle in my dad’s eye when he showed me that egg yolk could serve as glue in a pinch. The smallest treats (new socks, a little activity book, etc.) were big to us.
One day, when I was about 6 or 7, my dad came home from work and he had that look in his eye. Mischievous, excited – he had a big secret that he was bursting to share. He went out to his truck and soon returned with his arms loaded up with of packs of gum – he gleefully poured them on my mom as she sat on the floor. All kinds of gum! Bubblegum, mint gum, fruit gum! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Laughing, my brother and I jumped up and yelled excited questions, “Where did this come from?? How do you have all of this?? Why?? Can we have some??” Our outburst caused our little dog to join in the commotion, wagging her tail, barking. Smiling, Dad said nothing as he went back to the truck for another load of gum! He made three trips to the truck before he finally explained – a delivery truck had lost part of it’s load on a quiet country road. As my dad drove up, he noticed several people had pulled over to investigate and scoop up some gum, so he joined in.
We spent weeks happily chewing gum and giving packs of gum away to friends. (Actually, I was distressed at how much gum my parents gave away, but it also felt so expansive to have something that we could give away!)
This little incident keeps replaying in my mind these days. I didn’t see it then, but now when I look back, I see this as tangible evidence that God delights in extravagance. We often couldn’t afford things like bubblegum – it was a non-essential. This surprising influx of gum was a purely joyful gift. I have often mistakenly seen God as withholding, unresponsive, stingy. But when I take the time time look and remember, I see evidence of God’s extravagance all over the place. In memories, beauty in nature, friends who love me, the amazing variety in food and scents. There is so much in our human experience that is for our enjoyment – not just for utilitarian purposes. This awareness causes me to want to be extravagant in my own giving.
What about you? Where have you noticed God’s extravagance?