I published this in my second book, Lessons Along the Journey. I hope you find it useful. Although many years have passed since I first wrote this essay, I still have Nathan's marble hanging prominently on a wall in my office.
The world asks, “How much does he give?” Christ asks, “Why does he give?”– John Raleigh Mott
Visitors never seem to notice the small black marble on the shelf in our family room. They probably think it’s nothing more than a common piece of round glass, the kind you find in bags of fifty in toy stores. To me, though, it’s a treasure.
My son, Nathan, gave it to me when he was five. Until then he had kept it safe in a corner of his socks drawer. Whenever he left the house, he carried it in his front jeans pocket. One morning while I watched television, he marched into the living room clutching his treasure in his fist.
“Here, daddy.” He opened his hand.
“I love you,” he answered.
I switched off the television and stared at the marble. It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day, yet there he was, offering me his special treasure for no other reason than he loved me.
We’ve lived in eight different homes since that day, and in each one, I displayed the marble in a prominent place – not just because it is Nathan’s love-gift to me, but because the simple piece of glass reminds me of a great spiritual lesson: Sometimes I struggle with feelings of worthlessness, and I can’t help but wonder how often other Christians think of themselves in the same way. How many think they are just one of a million insignificant people scurrying to work, to school, to the supermarket? Outside of a small group of family, friends, and acquaintances, no one will ever know – or care – that we lived and died. What can anyone as unimportant as we, offer our Father in heaven?
There aren't any Biblical texts in which God says, "I will mount your love-offering on my shelf." But I am convinced our heavenly Father is greatly moved by our willingness to give Him ourselves, as I was when Nathan offered me his treasure. I believe God proudly displays to the angels our love-gifts of talents, time, finances, pleasures – the things some of us jealously hide in the corners of our drawers or carry close in our pockets.
And I do not doubt He is well pleased when we open our hands and say, "Here, daddy. I love you."
God is pleased with what we offer Him in love.