One of my favorite memories is that of my grandfather Charlie feeding the squirrels. The large oaks in his backyard in Baton Rouge provided plenty of acorns, so he decided he would give them a gift one year.
He laid a handful of large southern pecans at the base of the tree closest to the house. He watched and waited from an inside window. He did not see a squirrel come that first day. The next morning the pecans were gone. He did that for several weeks until one day he saw a gray squirrel run down the trunk, pick up a pecan and scurry back up to the first limb.
Charlie continued to offer his free gift and progressed a little at a time with getting to know his squirrel. After a time he was able to sit on the back step and watch the squirrel climb down, sit at the base, and crack the pecan and eat it.
As the months went by, Charlie moved to the picnic table and sat on the bench. From here he decided to knock on the tree with a pecan, lay the little gift on the ground, step back about 10 feet and see what would happen. Surely the squirrel knew it was safe by now. He was cautious and moved ever so slowly toward the base; unsure of what Charlie was doing. When he reached the bottom of the trunk; he picked up the pecan and cracked it open without darting back up into the limbs. A smile of confidence grew on Charlie’s face.
Many months continued to pass and Charlie persistently knocked a pecan against the tree, laid it on the ground, and stepped backward, remaining a little closer each time. The Squirrel became more comfortable with Charlie and his presentation, so after a year of getting to know each other Charlie squatted down and held a pecan in the palm of his hand. The squirrel was frightened to take something that was free from his hand, so Charlie laid it on the ground and stepped back. The squirrel ran and grabbed the pecan and scampered up the tree. It felt safe taking pecans from the ground, but from Charlie’s hand there was uncertainty.
Charlie continued holding his hand out and the squirrel continued to resist. Approaching two years, he took his time every afternoon and asked the squirrel to accept the gift in his hand. One day it happened. The little gray squirrel took the pecan. Charlie sat still and did not remove his hand. The squirrel sat next to him and cracked the pecan. The weeks passed and another squirrel hung upside down on the trunk inquisitive as to what this free gift was all about. Several squirrels began to show and found that the only requirement was simply to accept the gift.
I thought about this story the other day and decided to share it this Christmas with my friends. Sunday, the pastor asked for a show of hands from all those who had shared the gospel with someone that week. One or two hands went up, and one even gave a testimony. Sadly, mine was not one of them. I have been bothered all week by that event. My hand should have been up and so should everyone else’s. The early church would have had their hands up. There would have been no teaching that Sunday because everyone had a testimony to share.
“…there has been born FOR YOU a SAVIOR who is CHRIST THE LORD.”
Luke 2:11 (NAS)
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”
2 Corinthians 9:15 (KJV)
We are not the early church anymore, but we do have the same free gift and we should be just as excited to share as they were over two thousand years ago. It is important to understand that the Father handed us the free gift of salvation in His Son, Jesus Christ. All we have to do is accept Him. It is also through His Son that we are given the free gifts of grace and faith. Again, all we have to do is accept them.
Why are we not sharing our gift with those who do not know Christ? Like the squirrel, they are cautious and apprehensive, but with patience and perseverance we will bring them to the Gift as well. Kind, loving, and patient persistence is, should be our virtue.
“… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 (NAS)
If we believe in our heart that Jesus is Lord, it will come out of our mouth. We can’t contain it. Do you love the Lord? When is the last time you shared the gospel? Will you introduce someone to Jesus this season? He is both the Gift, and the one offering His hand if they are willing. His Gift is not only free, but it is one of sacrifice, so that you and others may have everlasting life. Why not introduce someone to the Gift while we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas.
“For God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten Son,
so that we may have everlasting life.”