This is a guest post, written by my good friend Barry during lockdown.  I hope you will enjoy reading about his worthwhile pursuits!

“Good actions are to be done, because they are of God and from God. These are to be done by people as if from themselves, but it ought to be believed that they are from the Lord, working in people and through them.”

Today, in a change from my usual lockdown occupations, I have completed the first part of a job which represents possibly the single most worthwhile thing I do all year.  I have been wrapping empty shoe boxes for ‘Operation Christmas Child’, the gift box scheme which provides Christmas presents for needy children overseas.  This task always causes me to stop a while and raise my level of thinking to a higher plane, presenting me with challenges both psychological and emotional.

Shoe boxes

My wife recently bought six new pairs of shoes in a sale.  Having put four of the empty boxes aside to Nike trainer sticking out of a shoe box in front of a Christmas tree. What is your most worthwhile pursuit?use at Christmas, I thought that it might save me some stress nearer the time if I were to wrap them in their Christmas paper during lockdown.  With this in mind, I have completed that task over the past couple of days.

Wrapping these boxes provides a pause from my daily routine.  For the time upon which I am occupied with the task, I reflect upon the many blessings which have been bestowed upon me. I like to think that some of that gratitude gets wrapped in with the paper.  Those who know me will know that I like to make the best job possible of the wrapping.  Over the years I have found a way of wrapping the boxes which makes them both look good and should be long lasting.  But, I ask myself, who am I really doing it for?

The child who receives the box probably won’t mind how well it is wrapped.  For them, the gifts inside will be the source of greater excitement. I will never meet the children who receive my boxes: why should it matter how well they are wrapped?  Is it selfish pride which drives me to make them look Four Indian children looking happy. What is your most worthwhile pursuit?good?  Or is it truly because I want the recipient to have the best job that I am capable of doing?  I get quite emotional with the thought that this simple box of gifts could be all that the child who receives it will get all year.  What a contrast with our own lives, where we nearly all have more than we need and, as a consequence, often don’t truly value any of it.

Is the diligent wrapping worthwhile?

In my life, I encounter situations where I am reminded of things which my parents have told me over the years.  My mother used to say to me “if a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing well”.  Too often this has meant that jobs haven’t been done at all, as I don’t always have the time to complete things to my satisfaction.  However, I like to think that this little mantra is borne out when I wrap my Christmas Man in checked shirt wrapping shoe boxes on a desk. What is your most worthwhile pursuit?boxes.  If I get a little confused as to the motivation behind my desire to make a good job of my wrapping, I take comfort from words of my father, who told me once that the hells cannot inspire anything of their own volition.  Once you have good thoughts, they can attack them and persuade you that they are not what you really think.  Therefore, your initial thoughts are the representation of your true nature and underlying love.  

So, when I pack the Christmas boxes in November, reflecting on the joy that they will bring to those children who receive them, I will rest somewhat happier, in the knowledge that my first thoughts were to give of my best for them rather than for myself.  (And, as in the words at the head of this article, I shall be grateful that, by using me as a channel through which to show his love to others, I too am blessed.)

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