By David Faust
When I hired a woodworker to lay a hardwood floor in my house and install a new mantle over the fireplace, I was amazed by his skill and dedication. He explained that every time he builds a mantle, he shapes and inserts a one-of-a-kind decorative piece of wood into the center. No two of his creations are exactly the same.
Do you know people who give a little extra to their work? We admire the extra effort exerted by athletes who give “110 percent”—who keep playing hard even when their team is losing or the game goes into extra time. We respect performers who play or sing with mechanical precision, but we are moved even more by musicians whose passion for music seems to overflow from a song deep in their hearts.
Overflowing With Thankfulness
God consistently goes the extra mile. That’s why the psalmist said, “My cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5). The apostle Paul commended first-century believers who endured severe trials and extreme poverty while they also experienced “overflowing joy” (2 Corinthians 8:2). That’s what joy does. It overflows. Waves of spiritual delight slosh out of our souls and spill onto others.
Elsewhere Paul described Christians as “overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:7). The Greek word for overflowing can be translated “excessive, abundant, more than enough.” It’s used in the Gospels to describe the fragments of bread and fish left over when Jesus fed the 5,000, and it appears in Ephesians 1:8 where Paul said God “lavished” his grace on us. That’s what grace does. It overflows in lavish acts of kindness.
Salvaging Lost Treasure
My adult son, Matt, is an amateur cartoonist. His funny sketches of dogs, cats, and political figures entertain adults and children alike. When Matt was about 10 years old, he created artwork and stories that were very important to him, but they created a huge mess with pieces of paper scattered around his bedroom. Unknown to me, one day my wife, Candy, gathered up all those papers, stuffed them into a large bag, and put them in the garage for safekeeping until she and Matt could decide which drawings to keep and which ones to throw away. Noticing what looked like a bag of trash, I grabbed it and tossed it into the garbage can right before the sanitation truck came and carted it all away.
Matt was heartbroken—and so was I—when we realized I had accidentally discarded his creations. But Candy immediately sprang into action. She called the sanitation company, drove to the dump, and rummaged by hand through the section where the truck had deposited the trash from our neighborhood. To everyone’s surprise and relief, Candy found Matt’s drawings and rescued them from the garbage heap. When she came home with those treasures in hand, my son and I gave her a big hug—after she took a long shower!
What kind of sacrificial love goes to such lengths to rescue something that matters to her child? What kind of love will literally reach into a garbage heap to save something of great value to her family? A mother’s love illustrates the do-whatever-it-takes love of the Father who goes the extra mile—who voluntarily reaches into our trash piles to salvage our lost treasures.
God’s love overflows. So should our gratitude.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.