Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "In The Garden"1 (Lyrics)
Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)
Six hundred miles was a long way to move a middle-school student.
The year was 1970, and I was ten years old. Dad, a freshly ordained Southern Methodist minister, decided that he'd move our family from Orangeburg, South Carolina, USA, to Jackson, Tennessee. I suppose that the move itself wouldn't have been so bad had it not taken me so far away from the grandparents who had spoiled me. They lived in Orangeburg, and my other grandparents lived thirty minutes from there.
Fortunately, my grandparents in Orangeburg made the situation easier. I was invited to spend every summer with them. Better yet, my grandfather drove an ice cream delivery truck and cleared it with his boss so that I could work with him. What better job could a pre-teen have? I ate all the free ice cream that I wanted, rambled around in the refrigerated part to retrieve ice cream for customers, received free lunches, and was paid $20 each week.
For three summers — the entire time my dad pastored in Jackson — I left for Orangeburg as soon as school was out. In two of those years, my grandmother boarded a Trailways bus and came for me. In the last summer, my parents allowed me to hop a Delta Airlines plane and make the trip myself. I suppose that they thought a 12-year-old was mature enough to handle the flight alone.
In the midst of all the selfish advantages that I received from working with my grandfather, I couldn't help but notice his kindness. Store owners who were rude to him were greeted with kindness: never a harsh word, never an angry look, never a "You can find somebody else to deliver your ice cream."
Then there were the kids who couldn't afford to buy ice cream but who mauled his truck at some of the mom-and-pop stores. "Hey mister, you got any free ice cream?" they'd ask. Most of the time he did: a broken carton or one that was smashed during the loading process, pieces a store owner wouldn't pay for, and pieces my granddaddy wouldn't stock because it would make the company look bad. Those little eyes bulged with anticipation as he opened one freezer door after another until he found some freebies. My granddaddy lived out what Paul instructed believers to have: kindness.
Whether it's returned or not, let us just show kindness.
Prayer: Father, as You are kind to us, so motivate us to show kindness to others. Amen.