The Gift

coat hanged on wall hooks

Hesitant, Jimmy Braxton entered the store. After all, his old coat still had some wear left. He thought, “Why do I need to buy a new one now?” On so many occasions the coat kept him warm—the year of the big snow at Bobbie Sue’s funeral, the hike he took up on the mountain that brisk December day, watching grandson Billy play football on Friday nights. At times, he tried other coats, but this one was his go-to. He thought about getting one just like it, but they no longer made this style and material nor one he thought as durable.  

But the old coat was fraying. A couple of stains persisted. Squeezing into the coat, Jimmy’s girth had crept. On close inspection, sewn discreetly, a few patches kept the coat usable. Inside, the lining began to thin. Jimmy thought his coat was exactly right, comfortable, familiar as family. Woven into its threads and tatters were stories remembered and forgotten.

Walking among the racks, Jimmy perused the store’s offerings. He would look at one coat, touch another, gaze around hoping to find one. Perplexed, Jimmy needed help. A salesperson, seeing his dilemma, approached him. He sensed Jimmy’s reluctance, so he started slow and soft. Failing, he stepped up the pace. He knew Jimmy would be tough. Jimmy didn’t like salespeople, so he excused him.

Taking a deep breath, Jimmy walked around. His wife, Myra, allowed him space. As if pixie dust filled the air, tucked neatly in the corner he saw the coat he thought perfect. The coat appeared almost as if it waited for him, as if it found him.

He tried it on. Perfect, the fit, style and color agreed with Jimmy. Myra liked it, too. “Let’s get it,” she said. Jimmy looked at the price tag. His face turned downward. “Myra, we can’t afford this coat. It’s too expensive. I’ll just keep the old one.”

Jimmy and Myra left the store. Days ticked by as each, crisper, leaned toward frost. Leaves fell and Myra attempted a few alterations to Jimmy’s coat. Jimmy thought about the new coat and how he might pay for it. But he clung to the old one.

Then, on the last autumn day, a package arrived. Jimmy wondered if Myra had ordered something. He asked her. She said, “No.” He opened the package. Inside was the coat he had admired. “How could this be?” he said. “Who has done this thing?” Baffled, he tried it on. The fit was perfect. “But I can’t accept such an expensive gift,” he thought.

Wearing it, Jimmy began to get comfortable in it. He felt different. He perked up. “Maybe I can accept a gift,” he thought. Not wanting to be ungrateful, not knowing how to return it, he kept it.

From time to time, he remembered the old coat, but he knew he would never wear it again.

“And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

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