Long Walk Part Of The Gift

An African boy listened carefully as his missionary teacher explained why Christians give presents to each other on Christmas day. “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other,” she said.

When Christmas day came, the boy brought to the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked as she held  the gift up to the light.The young boy told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless.

 “Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get a gift for me.”

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift. **


I love this story.

It perfectly illustrates that going the extra mile is the most precious gift of all.

I don’t know about you, but my heart has been extra tender this Advent. When that happens, at any time of the year, it usually means God is urging me to grow in a particular area of my life.

Does that ever happen to you? He turns up the heat, stirs the emotions and pushes us to grow. It’s possible to ignore, especially during this busy time of year, but I have learned to lean in and listen when God is speaking – most of the time, anyway. 🙂

Our son Grant moved to Chicago in December a few years back – just in time for a polar vortex, sub-freezing temperatures and a ton of snow. He wasn’t really prepared for such weather, and his commute to work was a three-block walk from his new apartment. Needless to say, our Christmas gifts for him that year included all manner of outerwear.

I was so concerned about him that it almost became an obsession to find the just the right things that would keep him warm in such extreme cold.

I was a mom on a mission!

I scoured the LL Bean Catalog, Cabela’s and other stores to find sub-zero clothing for the brutal Chicago weather. That stuff is expensive!

I shopped sales, used coupons and was able to get him taken care of without breaking the bank. It took some extra time and effort, but what a relief to know my boy had good quality gear to keep him warm.

And so, as the Lord has been working on me this Advent, He brought the memory of Grant’s first winter in Chicago to mind.

And then, almost immediately, came the challenge: Every year I donate items such as hats, gloves, scarves and blankets to the homeless. Have I ever taken so much time and care to find the same quality gifts for them?

Have I been as concerned about one who actually lives on the street as I was for a very well-cared for son who walks three blocks from one warm place to another?

Have I scoured the catalogs, used coupons and shopped sales in order to find the best gifts that I can afford? 

Has it ever become an obsession and a mission to find things that will really keep a person warm?

Do I give away the same quality of gifts as I give to my own family? 

If I am being honest, my answer would be sometimes – but not nearly enough. And this Advent, He is impressing on me to do more. Not necessarily to spend more, but to make more of an effort and to treat those who are in need as well as I treat my own family. In other words – to make the long walk part of the gift.

And here’s the thing – the recipient may never know about the long walk, but it doesn’t matter and it’s not the point. As the missionary teacher told the little boy, “The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other.”

So, if we are joyful over the birth of Jesus and truly love people, the long walk will become the most precious gift of all.

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Matthew 25:40

Merry Christmas! 


** The story is attributed to Norman Vincent Peale

18 thoughts on “Long Walk Part Of The Gift”

  1. Laura,

    Since meeting you at the Ladies Retreat at DRCC this fall, and subscribing to your blog, I have been so blessed. I definitely feel a kindred spirit with you. This post is just truly wonderful, and huge reminder to “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

    I’m a lover of volunteering, I’m a lover of encouraging and helping others, but so often I am more a lover of myself more than I would like to admit. Your thoughts echo mine. I pray to give the same thought, prayer, love and compassion to those whose names I do no know, as I do to those whose names I do.

    Love and Peace in Christ!

    1. Jenni — you have NO IDEA how much your comment means to me. It is such a blessing to connect with my sisters via speaking and this blog – and it means the world to me that what I have offered here resonated with you. Thanks for telling me. Merry Christmas!

  2. “Long walk part of gift…” How beautiful! Yes, we forget that the heart that goes those extra miles for others is truly part of the gift if not the gift. I love the photo of the boy with his arms out. I recall doing that as a child, even as an adult and felt like I was flying, walking on air. Thank you for these special words.

    1. Linda – Thanks for taking the time to leave such a sweet comment. I love the photo too –it took me a while to find the perfect one to go with the story. Merry Christmas! xo

  3. I remember when you shared this story at bible study and how touched I was then and what a treat to read it again. Thank you

  4. Laura, this story was such a poignant reminder of giving God”a best. Thank you for another blog that stirs my heart.

  5. Laura, What a beautiful story! I never thought about it that way, but indeed, the effort we make is part of the gift.

    I was convicted by your own conviction of whether I put that much effort into those I don’t know. Thank you for the reminder to love everyone well.

    Blessings and Merry Christmas!

    P.S. I have a picture like that of my daughter and son-in-law getting ready to move clear across the country to California; it was Christmas Day seven years ago. I am so blessed that they now live four minutes up the road with my precious granddaughter. 🙂

    1. Karen – thanks so much for such a kind comment – I am JEALOUS that you live so close to your kids now. Ours is still in Chicago and loves it. I am adjusting! Merry Christmas!

  6. Laura, this is such a powerful post! Your story about the boy and missionary teacher is beautiful, and the way you tied it in with the story of your son is brilliant. Your words are such a great reminder of how we need to go “the extra mile” for everyone, and clothe those around us with the warmth of Christ’s love! Thank you for blessing me today! (Visiting from Grace and Truth)

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  8. What a beautiful story, Laura. I really enjoyed that. I find myself sobbing through most of Advent, well… I tend to sob whenever God is working on me period, but Advent, is always that emotional time. This was our first Christmas w/o my father-in-law and it was a different kind of hard. We miss him.
    And this idea of scouring and serving w/o that depth of service being known for others who will never be able to repay you…even with a thank you, that sounds a lot like Jesus. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and for convicting us in a grace-way.
    Thanks for sharing this at the #GraceMoments Link Up.


    1. Dawn – thank you so much for your comment. I had a hard Christmas Eve missing my mom, but thankfully, the grief lifted and I was able to enjoy Christmas. Grief hits out of nowhere. I am sorry for the loss of your father-in-law. It is so hard when a dear one is missing from the family circle. xoxo Blessings to you in the new year.

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