Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: GENEROUS (10/31/19)
By Marilyn Borga
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Her parents were an ocean away. When she wrote them of her intention to marry, they expressed concern that her intended was so much older. Was she sure? She wrote back, "Sometimes it's just good to sit in the shade of an old oak tree." Her beloved was kind and hard working. As an older man, he would be money-wise. Together they would have an abundant and secure life. Yes, she had made up her mind.
Grandpa was friendly, a man quick to joke and laugh. He was pleased with his lovely bride-to-be. He wanted to celebrate and share his joy with everyone he met. As the guest list increased, she grew a little apprehensive but love stifled her nagging thoughts.
The wedding photograph shows ten bridesmaids and as many groomsmen. The number of guests, I can only imagine. Family legend has it that, on their honeymoon, Grandpa confessed that he had borrowed five hundred dollars to pay for the wedding. Borrowed? Five hundred dollars… a virtual fortune in 1913! Grandma wept as she tried to calculate how many thousands of eggs her hens would have to produce to pay off the enormous debt.
Their love prevailed. In the early years, while he worked in the coal mines, she fed her growing family from her garden patch and the chickens she raised. She filled their mattresses and pillows with the feathers she plucked. She washed the clothes by hand and as if there wasn't enough work, she took in boarders to earn extra money. Grandma tried her best to rein in her husband's seemingly spendthrift ways; a fragile balancing act. She frugally saved every spare dollar, the ones her husband didn’t give away. Eventually, they were able to buy a lovely farm nestled in the aptly-named Angel Valley.
And through over four decades of marriage, there was always that gentle tug of war between Grandma's frugality and Grandpa's generosity of spirit: "The garden hose? Our neighbor asked to borrow it last fall. I guess he forgot to return it," he says with a sheepish look. She rolls her eyes and huffs another sigh as she reaches into her stash of coins and hands him enough to buy a new hose.
"Remember that our friends from the city are coming again this weekend," he says. "Good thing the sweet corn is ripening." She struggles to share her husband's attitude. The Depression has hit hard, their friends can use a few hearty farm meals. "Bring me that big ham from the smokehouse," she relents at last. "And I'll butcher an extra chicken for Sunday dinner."
Who best to emulate? Should I follow Grandma's frugality or Grandpa's carefree generosity? Surely Grandpa’s way is superior, but maybe a combination of both might work best. If one learns to live frugally, then he will more likely have the means to give generously.
But I think of the most incredibly generous Bridegroom; a spendthrift, you could call him. He squandered his high position, and ultimately gave his very life, all in reckless pursuit of an unworthy bride. He wants the entire world to share in his wedding feast. His banquet hall reaches as far as the eye can see; there is room for all.
Sometimes in my selfish spirit, I rebel. "Really, Lord? You're asking her? Surely that person doesn't deserve the invitation. Don't you remember what she did to me?" And then I remember… and I hang my head in shame. It's only his love for me that makes me worthy of the invitation, after all. Dare I be so frugal with my mercy when the Bridegroom has granted me such a generous gift?
That wedding was paid for long ago. Paid in full. There is no limit to the guest list. The invitations are out: all one needs to do is respond. Won't you come and share in the joy?
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (NKJV)
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