2021 Shoebox Packing Party
By the numbers: 75 shoeboxes for girls two-four, 54 for five-nine and 75 for ten-fourteen.
For the boys: 75 for two-four, 53 for five-nine and 75 for ten-fourteen.
Grand total: 407 gifts.
God takes a special interest in the things we do in His name, so it's always important to do them with pure and purposeful intent. You'd be hard-pressed to find an occasion where that's more on display than our annual shoebox packing party. Tracie expertly organizes the gifts for efficient packing, Ms. Doris makes sure everyone gets an insert bearing scripture and our church's contact information, a few of our men secure the boxes with rubber bands and stack them up, then, without even waiting for pictures, get them loaded into a truck bed, and a trailer, and the truck's seats cause there's just too many. There are no awards for most boxes packed by any one person, no door prizes for showing up, no incentives to come down except to do God's work in the company of God's people. And how well we move together when we do.
I always get a little contemplative while I pack. As I went down the line, I came upon a box of little stuffed animals. There were polar bears, sloths, koalas and pandas, each with "JESUS
LOVES ME" printed on their bellies. As I reached into the box, a thought appeared in my
mind and my hand stopped just above the toys; Where is this box going? Each of these animals come from a different corner of the world, distant and unrelated, and I wondered if the child who opened this box would know what the animal I packed for them was. After a moment's thought, I settled on South America and placed a little sloth into the box. Whether or not my box winds up in the hands of a child in South America is up to God to decide, but I'd like to think He's keeping my small consideration in the back of His mind as He watches over those handling the logistics.
Is that too presumptuous of me to think that God will send the shoebox I packed to a specific place because of the choice of animal I put in it? I don't think so, after all, there's no act of love too small or too insignificant for God to use. Operation Christmas Child is an
absolutely massive undertaking, sure, but at its core it's personal. It's one gift from one packer to one child, only it's multiplied millions of times over. And no one can pack a shoebox like me. No one can pack a shoebox like you. God created us as individuals and we all have unique ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. God uses our differences, however minute, however imperceptible to us, for His glory. That's one of the reasons why when we gather together we do our best work for the kingdom. Our uniqueness creates variables that God uses to enact his purposes. That's how I like to think about it anyway. When you look at this wall of boxes, do you know which one you packed? No? God does.
If you missed out on the packing party this year, that's okay; there's always more work to be done. Keep an eye on the announcements and add yourself to the next event or project that comes along. God can use you in ways you can't begin to know; only He can see the ties that bind all of us together, and He plays them like the strings of a harp.