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|Publisher:||Nelson, Thomas, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.56(d)|
|Age Range:||11 - 14 Years|
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He Chose You
By Max Lucado
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2001 Max Lucado
All rights reserved.
Oh, the Things We Do for Love!
(God Did This for Me?!)
The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NIV
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:17–18 NIV
One cautious knee at a time, Josh crept carefully forward, took a deep breath, and looked down over the edge. (Gulp!) It sure was a long ... lonnnng ... way to the ground from up here. And it had seemed like such a good idea at the time. (What was he thinking?!)
He closed his eyes for a moment — this was not a good time to get dizzy! — and settled back on his heels. Surely it wouldn't hurt to take just a small break before getting started — just long enough for his stomach to settle back into place. Besides, he reminded himself, it's for The Gift, so don't be such a wuss!
Josh couldn't exactly recall when it was he had the stroke of genius that brought him to this moment. But it was a good one — occasional moment of terror or not — he decided. After all, "creative solutions" were his specialty. And this was a doozy! Which is exactly what you need when you're too young for a real job and want to come up with a very special gift for a very special someone.
Just thinking about her made him smile. Being with her somehow always turned into an adventure — she found something to enjoy, or learn from, or celebrate in even the most ordinary things. And when she looked at him with those dazzling blue eyes and smiled at something he said or did, he felt ten feet tall. Because when she looked at him, she saw something ... wonderful.
And she deserved a gift as special as she was. Whatever it took. Which is how he ended up on old Mrs. Carter's roof — looking at what must be miles of leaf-filled gutters!
Oh, the things we do to give gifts to those we love. We work hard, save our money, and shop carefully, or spend time thinking up — and making — creative gifts for the special people in our lives.
But we don't mind, do we? We would do it all again. Fact is, we do it all again. Every Christmas, every birthday — every so often — we find ourselves in foreign territory. On purpose. A choice made of our own free will. Grownups are in toy stores. Dads are in teen stores. Wives are in the fishing department, and husbands are in the purse department.
Not only do we enter unusual places, we do unusual things. We mow lawns to buy Dad that special tool or baby-sit in order to buy Mom her favorite perfume.
And we'd do it all again. Having pressed the grapes of service, we drink life's sweetest wine — the wine of giving. We are at our best when we are giving. In fact, we are most like God when we are giving.
There! Josh scooped up the last handful of slimy, mushy — yucky! — leaves from the gutter and dropped them to the ground. Finally done. Now all he had to do was rake up the mess on the grass and his Mrs. Carter projects were finished. Of course, first he had to get off the roof, down the ladder, and back on good old solid ground. High places were definitely not his thing. But he had to admit, the view from up here was great.
He gave the gutter a good-bye pat and took a last look around — admiring the flower beds he'd cleaned out last weekend and the gleaming coat of fresh paint on that shabby old fence. Then he picked up his T-shirt (where did that big rip come from?!) and slipped it on. Ouch! Oh well, a little sunburn never hurt anyone. And The Gift was worth it!
Rung by careful rung, he started down the ladder —
"Yoo-hoo, Josh ... I brought you some lemonade, dear."
Josh jumped. The ladder started to slide ...
"Oh, my, are you all right, dear?" Mrs. Carter bent down to brush at his shirt (and sunburn) with tiny, frail hands.
"Uh ... I think so," he answered, looking up at her. Then he cautiously tested each arm and leg. Everything seemed to work. Fortunately. Wow, got lucky that time. One more trip to the emergency room and Mom would really freak out! "See, I'm fine. Really. Happens all the time," he said, bouncing to his feet and taking a few steps. (The limp hardly showed at all.)
"Well, if you're sure, dear ..." Mrs. Carter still looked a little worried, but she managed a beaming smile when he posed her in front of her freshly painted fence, handed her the sign, and snapped the photo.
If she only knew! Josh grinned to himself as he thought of some of the close calls he'd had in pursuit of The Gift.
Bathing and grooming the Andersons' five dogs, for instance. Funny, they hadn't looked quite so ... big — or hairy — when he took on the job. And who would have guessed that sleepy old Bruno would make such a big deal about those snarls in his coat? (Should have named him Fang!) But it made a great photo. So did the big grins on those kids at the new playground he'd helped with — learning a thing or two about hammers in the process.
All in all, he'd managed to survive the last three months more or less intact, in spite of what his parents had thought when he came up with the idea for The Gift. In fact, they loved the idea itself.
"It's perfect," said his dad.
"Exactly what she'd like better than anything else," agreed Mom.
"But ...," cautioned Dad, "absolutely no sharp edges or power tools!" Dad still hadn't gotten over that little lawn mower fiasco. "You know what happens ..."
Had to admit, Dad had a point. And Josh was on a first-name basis with every ER doctor in five counties. It wasn't that he was careless. Things just seemed to ... happen. If something was going to fall, chances were really good it would fall on Josh. Sharp, pointy objects could find him in the dark. Doorways were never quite wide enough. Curbs, foot-stools — even the dog dish! — threw themselves in his path. And every bee or wasp with an attitude had his address.
So power tools were out. But there were plenty of other odd jobs that needed doing. And people — like Mrs. Carter — who really couldn't afford to hire a professional to do them. And when they heard about The Gift — and saw how hard he worked to make every job a perfect job — he had all the work he could handle. And more.
A few scrapes, bruises, and "dings" were a small price to pay for what he had in mind. And, hey, a sprained ankle could happen to anyone. Though that problem with the wallpaper paste was kind of a surprise. But he'd needed a haircut anyway ...
Have you ever wondered why God gives so much? We could exist on far less. He could have left the world flat and gray; we wouldn't have known the difference. But he didn't.
He splashed orange in the sunrise and cast the sky in blue. And if you love to see geese as they gather, chances are you'll see that too. Did he have to make the squirrel's tail furry? Was he obliged to make the birds sing? And the funny way that chickens scurry or the majesty of thunder when it rings? Why give a flower fragrance? Why give food its taste? Could it be he loves to see that look upon your face?
If we give gifts to show our love, how much more would he? If we — speckled with quirks and greed — love to give gifts, how much more does God, pure and perfect God, enjoy giving gifts to us? Jesus asked, "If you hardhearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won't your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?" (Matthew 7:11 TLB).
Gifts shed light on God's heart, God's good and generous heart. Jesus' brother James tells us: "Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light" (James 1:17 MSG). Every gift reveals God's love ... but no gift reveals his love more than the gifts of the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but a cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood. The gifts of the cross.
Much has been said about the gift of the cross itself, but what of the other gifts? What of the nails, the crown of thorns? The garments taken by the soldiers. The garments given for the burial. Have you taken time to open these gifts? To see them for what they are? To think about what they mean? Do you understand the incredible love wrapped inside each gift?
* * *
Josh scooted around very carefully on the rickety folding chair. Please, no disasters today! He glanced down at The Gift, then looked around the crowded athletic field and tried not to yawn as the speeches went on and on. Bor-ing!
Finally — an eternity or two later — they were ready to hand out the diplomas. Josh searched the long line of caps and gowns with eager eyes — looking for her. There! Smack-dab in the middle of the parade of solemn twenty-somethings — practically bouncing with excitement — there she was. Flashing blue eyes. Enormous grin. And a riot of shining silver curls. Gran — his Gran was graduating from college!
Gran: who had filled Josh's life with love and joy, and taught him that every day was a gift — and a chance to do "just a little good, Josh, just a little ..."
Gran: who not only approved of the Golden Rule, but was convinced it was her personal responsibility to make it shine.
Gran: who saw service to others as a privilege, and positively knew that anyone who needed a helping hand was her neighbor!
Gran: who believed in dreams, and in making them come true.
After ten long years of day jobs and night classes, Gran was graduating from college! And Josh was about to burst with love and pride.
* * *
"Here, Gran," said Josh with a big hug, "this is for you."
Gran looked puzzled as she began leafing through the photo album. But then she took a closer look and began to smile.
Page by page, photo by photo, her smile grew bigger as she studied the beaming faces. Mrs. Carter and her freshly painted fence. Five extremely well-groomed dogs sitting politely beside Tom Anderson's wheelchair. The Head Start kids on their new playground. Josh himself surrounded by twenty bags of trash collected in that eyesore vacant lot. The freshly washed windows at the homeless shelter ...
Page by page the story unfolded. And in every photo of every "gift" a grinning someone was holding a big sign that read: For Gran ... with Love!
"Oh, Josh ... this must have taken months!" Gran's voice shook just the tiniest bit.
Josh gave her another hug. "Well, of course, Gran. That was the whole idea. Besides, there were a lot of people who needed a hand."
"I ... I've never had such a lovely gift. I don't know what to say," said Gran, who usually did.
"Oh, you already said it, Gran," he answered, "lots of times. Remember? 'The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart, with a little bit of the giver inside.'"
"And believe me, Gran," chimed in Dad, with a pointed glance at the bandage on Josh's forehead and the cast on his wrist, "there are several bits of Josh in this gift!"
Which was okay, since everyone needed a laugh right about then.
Jesus didn't have to give us so many gifts at the cross, you know. The only act, the only required act for our salvation was the shedding of blood, yet he did much more. So much more. Search the scene of the cross, and what do you find?
A wine-soaked sponge.
Two crosses beside Christ.
Gifts, each and every one. Divine gifts intended to stir that moment, that split second when your face will brighten, your eyes will widen, and God will hear you whisper, "You did this for me?"
The diadem of pain
which sliced your gentle face,
three spikes piercing flesh and wood
to hold you in your place.
The need for blood I understand.
Your sacrifice I embrace.
But the bitter sponge, the cutting spear,
the spit upon your face?
Did it have to be a cross?
Did not a kinder death exist
than six hours hanging between life and death,
all spurred by a betrayer's kiss?
"Oh, Father," you pose,
heart-stilled at what could be,
"I'm sorry to ask, but I long to know,
did you do this for me?"
Dare we pray such a prayer? Dare we think such thoughts? Could it be that the hill of the cross is rich with God's gifts? Let's examine them, shall we? Let's unwrap these gifts of grace as if — or perhaps, indeed — for the first time. And as you touch them — as you feel the timber of the cross and trace the braid of the crown and finger the point of the spike — pause and listen. Perhaps you'll hear him whisper ...
"I did it just for you."CHAPTER 2
Spit, Sin, and Other Nasty Stuff We'd Rather Not Think About
"I Will Bear Your Dark Side"
(God's Promise in the Soldiers' Spit)
Sin speaks to the wicked man in his heart. Psalm 36:1 ICB
Foolish people don't care if they sin. But honest people work at being right with others. Proverbs 14:9 ICB
So, do not let sin control you in your life here on earth. You must not be ruled by the things your sinful self makes you want to do. Romans 6:12 ICB
Spit?! Eeuwwww! Pretty nasty stuff, right? Not that you'd ever do anything that ugly, of course. Jenny Archer certainly wouldn't.
Or so she thought.
But we'll get to that in a minute. First, let me ask you something: Have you ever wondered what would have happened to the Beast if the Beauty hadn't come along?
You know the story. There was a time when his face was handsome and his palace pleasant. But that was before the curse. Before the shadows fell on the castle of the prince. Before the shadows fell on the heart of the prince. And when the shadows fell, he hid. Locked away in his castle, he was left with a glistening snout and curly tusks ... and in a very bad mood.
All that changed, of course, when the girl came. But what if she hadn't appeared?
Even worse, what would have happened if she hadn't cared? And who would have blamed her if she hadn't? He was such a ... well, such a beast. Hairy. Drooling. Roaring. Angry! And she was such a beauty. Stunningly gorgeous. Contagiously kind. If ever two people lived up to their names, didn't the Beauty and the Beast? Who would have blamed her if she hadn't cared?
But she did care.
And because the Beauty loved the Beast, the Beast became more beautiful himself.
Just a fairy tale, right? That's why the story feels so familiar. Sure, that's part of it. But do you know another reason why this story feels so familiar? Because it reminds us of ourselves. Because — and here's the really scary part — there's a beast inside each of us!
It wasn't always so. There was a time when the face of humanity was beautiful and the palace pleasant. But that was before the curse. Before the shadow fell across the garden of Adam. Before the shadow fell across the heart of Adam. And ever since the curse we've been different. Beastly. Ugly. Defiant. Angry!
We do things — unkind, hateful things — we know we shouldn't. Then we wonder why we did them.
Jenny's beast woke and stretched and bared its teeth in — of all places — the Jefferson Middle School cafeteria, on a sunny October Monday.
Jenny looked doubtfully at the steaming pan of ... something. Oh, please, she thought, watching a dripping ladle scoop out a hearty portion, not Mystery Meat again!
But before she could shake her head no ... Splat! Lunch (or whatever it was) landed with a splashy plop onto her tray — and onto the front of her new shirt. (First her stubborn hair, then math, now this!)
"Well, of course," she sighed, "it's that kind of day!" Then she jumped as the next tray in line slammed into hers, pinching her fingers between the two.
Excerpted from He Chose You by Max Lucado. Copyright © 2001 Max Lucado. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A Letter from Max Lucado, xi,
1. Oh, the Things We Do for Love!, 2,
2. Spit, Sin, and Other Nasty Stuff We'd Rather Not Think About, 14,
3. The Ultimate "Been There, Done That!", 28,
4. The Greatest "Cover-Up" of All Time, 42,
5. Sometimes a Shout ... Sometimes a Whisper, 54,
6. Be Careful What You Ask For: You Might Get It!, 68,
7. If You Don't Know Where You're Going, You Might End Up Somewhere Else!, 80,
8. All Dressed Up and Somewhere to Go!, 92,
9. Anyone Can Talk a Good Game; But It's How You Play It That Counts!, 104,
10. C'mon In ... the Door's Always Open!, 118,
11. The Gift That Keeps On Giving, 130,
12. Tender Love. Tough Love. True Love., 142,
13. No Place to Go But ... Up!, 154,
14. Against All Odds!, 170,
15. Check Your "Baggage" Here!, 184,
What People are Saying About This
"For a child in the 'tweenage' years, reading a book that's not assigned is a little like buying a pair of jeans-it better be a perfect fit or forget it. Max Lucado…writes He Chose You for this age group hoping to help young people discover that God's love is their only perfect fit. Lucado offers tweens a true sense of where they belong."