Early in our marriage, my husband, Dan, was big into collecting sports cards. He had an extensive assortment of high-value cards featuring baseball, basketball, and football players like Frank Thomas, Nolan Ryan, Shaquille O'Neal, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino, to name a few.
I never saw the value in his hobby. He'd spend countless hours going from store to store in search of the hottest cards, and then he'd arrive home with his finds tucked protectively in plastic cases to ensure no one would damage them. We couldn't touch or feel his magnificent treasures. All we could do was look at each card, try to feel the thrill of owning small, printed pieces of cardstock, and speculate on how much each one would increase in value. Where's the fun in that? I'd wonder.
For Dan though, collecting is in his nature. Like a little boy, he's never outgrown his love of gathering, sorting, and determining the value of whatever "specimens" he's enthralled with at the time. The process is every bit as valuable as the product for him. I didn't understand or appreciate this—until the Christmas we barely had money to buy gifts for each other.
Dan and I typically exchanged presents on Christmas Eve after the kids were asleep. I secretly dreaded our tradition this particular year because the gift I had bought him was so meager. I don't recall what I gave him, but after opening whatever trinket I had wrapped for him, he handed me a small box. I assumed it would be some equally inconsequential offering. I was wrong.
In the box was a pair of emerald-diamond earrings—a gift I never imagined receiving that year, if ever in my lifetime. I was stunned and jubilant, but my surprise and joy were tempered by the question that forced its way out: "How did you pay for these?" I asked, eyeing the earrings, not sure I'd be able to keep them.
"I sold my most valuable baseball cards," Dan said. "I knew that collection would come in handy."
In a year when we could least afford fancy jewelry, my husband threw caution—and his prized collection—to the wind so that he could lavish me with this embarrassment of riches. His gift to me was decadent. (The money could have been used to pay bills, after all.) But mostly it made me feel cherished. To think that he would give up something he treasured so much so that I could have something so lovely—it still makes me sigh.
Dan's extravagant gift to me was an object lesson in what it means to lavish someone you love with costly gifts.
In Ephesians 1: 7–9, the apostle Paul talks about God lavishing the riches of his grace on us through the redemptive blood of Jesus. There was no costlier gift God could have given us than Christ, and in him we know unequivocally what it means to be loved. May you savor this unmatchable gift today!
Marian V. Liautaud