COLUMN: Importance of sharing our gifts

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I know summer means different things to different people. It can mean pool time, soccer games, family vacations, and a host of other things.

For me it means baseball. As soon as the weather starts to change, I can taste the hot dogs and hear John Fogerty singing “Centerfield.” Baseball has officially invaded our home this year.

We recently attended Opening Day at Lee Park for two ballplayers in our home and I had the chance to share some of my childhood with our kids.

I am new to being a dad at sporting events. I did my best to prepare myself for the emotions I would experience. I was ready for the anger and frustration of strikeouts. I was ready for the embarrassment of missed opportunities for outs.

I was not ready for the emotions that come with singing our National Anthem. I felt them creep in as I explained to my kids that we honor people we never knew by lowering our hats and looking toward our flag. This moment gets me because I take seriously the cost that others spent for me to enjoy things I didn’t earn.

I appreciate this moment because I don’t always remember the cost it has taken others to get me to a place.

We are just finishing one year of running the Rome Salvation Army. It’s a century old legacy that we have been entrusted with and take seriously. A legacy not just from those serving at the Salvation Army, but by those in the entire community of Rome.

It even cost someone something for me to be standing in beautiful Lee Park. Someone said yes to that park. It cost the coaches and the organizers to create the league. It cost the parents who signed their children up to create the teams.

These are some of the gifts that pour into our community making it the amazing place it is today.

The Bible says a lot about gifts. Every gift comes from God (James 1:17). We all have a variety of gifts (Romans 12:6). Yet, the one story I always come back to is a strange story about gifts. It is the story of Cain and Abel.

The story goes like this. Two brothers bring gifts to God. God accepts Abel’s gift, but does not accept Cain’s gift. Cain became enraged. His unchecked anger leads to him slaying his brother. God then comes to talk with Cain and asks where is Abel. Cain attempts to evade but then God says, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground (Genesis 4:10, CSB)!” One possible way to translate this is the absence of his gift is deafening to me.

I thought about this as I realized how many people needed to share their gift for that opening day to happen. They came together like a piece of music. You can take a song and eliminate its pieces to a degree, but eventually it would become nothing. Yet, the addition of parts often brings new life to a piece of music. If people had decided not to share their gifts, there is a good chance that my family would have still enjoyed that day, but not to the depth it did because someone said yes to sharing their gift. Their yes meant something.

The summer is just starting and so many things are happening. So the question to ask is who could use your gift? Where is your gift needed? What could your gift mean for those you know and even someone you don’t know?

The absence of your gift is felt even if it isn’t easily recognized. And for those that have said yes to sharing your gift — thank you.

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