The Gift

25 03 2013

I believe it was on my 10th birthday that I received, what I then considered, the coolest gift I had ever been given, a portable transistor radio.  Yes, young folks, back in the early 60s, before boom boxes, tape players, CD players, ipods and even 8-trackImages, this was the way you listened to your favorite tunes.  Oh, you might have had a hi-fi record player in the home to spin 45s and LPs, but to have your music with you all the time you had to have a transistor.  Pretty wild, huh?  And here’s the real kicker children, all the good stations were on AM and not FM!  The station of choice to listen to Beatles, the Stones and all the other rock bands, plus all the latest hits from Motown was CKLW, which broadcasted out of Windsor, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit.  Late in the evening radio waves from as far west as Chicago and St. Louis and east from places like Philadelphia and Atlanta would drift into my Ohio hometown and I would see how many I could dial up on a given night.  My little radio was all equipped with capability to pick up short wave frequencies.  It didn’t work real well, but occasionally, after midnight, I could listen to people talking in languages foreign to my ear.  Wouldn’t have the slightest idea what they were saying but just the fact that they were located in some far off land kept me completely mesmerized for hours.  Often I would fall asleep listening to a far off station only to awake the next day to a scratchy static sounds from loosing the station with the morning light.  This little techno-innovation of 1964 probably didn’t cost $20, but to me it was worth a million.  As far back as I can remember I’ve always had a love for music, now I could have it with me all the time; awesome!  I mean everyone loves to hear music; at least, so I thought.

It was a couple of weeks after my birthday and I was walking down the street listening to my radio when I passed two older boys.  One of the boys shouted at me, “You think you’re cool with that radio, don’t ya?”  I was caught off guard by this remark.  I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, so I just looked back over my shoulder and said, “No.” Proceeding up the street I ran into a couple other boys, but these I knew from the neighborhood.  They asked if they could see my transistor which I let them.  When one went to hand it back to me a hand from behind reached out and grabbed it, those older boys had followed me.  I didn’t say anything as the one looked it over carefully and said, “Pretty nice.”  “Thanks” I responded and reached out to retrieve it from him.  In the next moment my heart sank into my stomach.  Instead of handing it over, he gave it a toss as far as he could throw it. Luckily it was winter with a lot of snow on the ground so maybe it wasn’t damaged badly.  I ran as fast as I could to get to it but the boys followed right behind me.  Just before I could reach for it one knocked me down hard, face first, into the snow.  I raised my head up just in time to see the other boy take his booted foot and smash my radio farther down into the snow. Finished with their “fun” they walked off with one of them smirking “Bet you don’t feel so cool now, do you kid?”  Frantically digging I retrieved my radio from deep in the snow; but there was a crack in the plastic housing and the antenna was snapped off.  Walking home now I was crying my eyes out wondering why did this happen. Ward Fought, our next door neighbor saw my condition as I came down the sidewalk and came out of his house to see what the matter was.  I showed him my radio and he took it in his hands to examine it. “Johnny, leave this with me and let me see what I can do.  Come back over tomorrow, okay?”  The next day I went to see Ward and he had my little music maker working good as ever.  “Nothing real bad” he explained, “Just had to take it apart to let all the components dry properly, then I took an antenna I had from an old radio and hooked it up.  Can’t do much with the crack, it’s always going to be there, but I put some epoxy glue on it and it should hold.”  Ward turned it on and the music blared once again. “Sounds pretty good, huh” he said with a smile.  Good old Ward, I couldn’t thank him enough for what he did.  It did sound just as good as ever, but something had changed.  I never took it out of my room again and seldom did I even play it.  As much as I had loved this special gift from my mom, it now was a reminder of what happened that day the two older boys waylaid me just for having it.  It just didn’t make any sense, I didn’t do anything to them, all I was doing was listening to my radio; why would that be taken as acting like I’m better than someone else.  I would ask that question again, but in a different format, some 25 years later.

Olivia worked at a convenience store that I would often visit on my way home from work.  A beautiful young lady that was nice to everyone who came through the door.  One day when I stopped it was obvious Olivia was upset, possibly crying earlier.  “You okay?” I asked since this was out of the ordinary from the cheerful girl that usually greeted me.  “Yeah, I’m fine” was all she said and then silence that let me know she didn’t want to talk about it.  It was a couple of days before Olivia opened up with what was still wrong.  One of the other regulars mistook her friendliness as something else and asked her out.  She said, “I politely told him that I was seeing someone and couldn’t but thank you any way.  The next thing I knew he was belittling me, saying I was a big tease and that I wasn’t as pretty as I thought I was.” Pausing for a minute before speaking she said only a few more words; “and then it got worse.  I was crying but he didn’t care and probably would have gone on with his titrate if someone else hadn’t come in the store.” She then said words I heard coming out of my own mouth many years back; “Why’d he do that, I never did anything to him. I didn’t do anything wrong, did I?”

I’m not by far the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it hasn’t taken me long in life to recognize not everyone has a kind heart or spirit.  I’ll go out on a limb and give the vast majority the thumbs up on kindness, but we all realize that there’s that “Mouthy Minority” who look for a chance to rain on someone else.  And don’t get the idea I’m coming down on people like that as not worth the time of day; I got this Book I read often that tells me God sees all of us as special.  I’ve learned that many people who tear down others for what they have, sometime or another had the same thing happen to them.  Anger becomes their defense and weapon for the purpose of retaliation, no matter if the one they attack has done anything to them or not.  I could have easily been one of those people because of instances in my life that were damaging to me.  Somewhere along the Rock Road I learned I didn’t have to be that way no matter how bad I get treated at times. If someone did something to me that was wrong , what good would it do to follow suit?  I had to learn no matter what anyone else did, I must do right!  That Book I spoke of has these words written in it; “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” Quite possibly that might sound corny, or even being too soft, but to date I find it works better than any retribution I could come up with.  (There’s another place that talks about the effects of being kind to ones that aren’t.  It’s found in Romans 12:20, but for the sake of time lets not go there today!)

Well that’s how to handle the radio smashers and the beauty attackers; but what about the damage they’ve instilled?  We wouldn’t be honest if we said such assaults do not leave scars.  Both cases I’ve written on have today have one commonality, what was attacked was not the person, so much as the gift they possessed.  I mentioned that the radio my mom bought me cost about $20 because of the extra features it had. Not a whole lot of money in today’s world but back 50 years ago mom was making a mere $1 an hour.  For her to buy me this gift took some sacrifice, but that didn’t matter, she wanted me to have this “Gift.” From that start came a love of music that has never died with many opportunities to perform what I love so much for others to enjoy, and even an added bonus, use my now extended “Gift” in the service of my Lord; Awesome!  As for Olivia, her “Gift” was her beauty and her friendly spirit.  She used that Gift to make others happy other when they met her, to make ones feel special, that this beautiful girl would make their day just a little brighter with a kind word and a smile.  Olivia recovered from her assault that day and I hear she went into nursing.  Still using her Gift plus her extended Gift making people happy!

This man learned a long time ago that Gifts are important, for they are generally given in love.  (The greatest of those Gifts you can read about in John 3:16.)  The question then to be asked is what do we do with the Gift?  Do we show it off or do we hide it?  Well, of course we show it off, it’s our way of saying thank you to the Giver of the Gift, it’s a way of saying, yes I am special but not because I say so, but because someone else does.  Our Heavenly Father has given us many diverse Gifts along the Rock Road, the best is offered through His Son Jesus Christ in the form of eternal life to each who accepts the greatest of Gifts. That’s my belief and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

Went a little long but I just felt I needed to say all I did. You are special, you have been give a Gift, and I’m sure to someone you are a Gift.

I think I used this quote once before but its worth repeating once again.  “Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God”

Blessings to each of you as you Journey along the Rock Road.


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