Michael’s Gift

This is the first story that I wrote to be read as part of a sermon. It is very cheesy, and a little long, but it is near and dear to my heart. I like it because it speaks to so many different people in the audience. And if I am honest I like it because I am sucker for school boy crushes.

Synopsis:

A 9 year old boy, Michael, has a crush on his teacher and sells his own toy to buy her an expensive gift.

Spiritual idea:

In 2 Samuel 24:18-25 David buys a threshing floor so that he can make an altar to the Lord. The owner offers to simply give it to David, but the king refuses saying that he will not offer anything to the Lord that didn’t cost him anything. Many people who are a part of churches every week are simply offering God what is left of their lives. Their worship and devotion really doesn’t cost them anything. This story shows the lengths that one young boy was willing to go to pay for a gift. It is a great jumping off point for giving God more than just leftovers.

Setting:

Storyteller begins with a book in his hand “reading” silently. After a moment he “notices” the audience and begins telling the story.

The Story

What am I reading? O, it’s really a good story. If you have a few minutes I would like to share it with you. So where do I start? I guess I start where all good stories start, with once upon a time, (put book down) a time not that far from our own there lived a boy named Michael. Michael was 9 years old in the 4th grade and for the first time in his life he was in love.

As our story opens Michael was walking home from school. He was big for his age, with dark brown uncombed hair. He had his backpack slung over one shoulder, and he was sweating in the Alabama August afternoon. His clothes were a little dirty; his jeans were a few inches too short and you could see his white socks above his out of style tennis shoes. To top it off there was a muddy hole in the left knee of his jeans where he had fallen a block before (he was always clumsy). But the smile on his face showed that he was unconcerned, and anyone who has ever been in love would recognize that dreamy far off look in his eyes.

As he took a right on Meadowlark to walk up the hill that would take him to his house he replayed the scene in his head again.

It was the first day of school, and he was sitting in the back of the classroom. He always liked the back of the class, where he didn’t feel like everyone was staring at him. He hoped his new teacher wouldn’t assign seats, and she would just let him stay back there in his corner. As he waited for class to start he pulled out his new pen and his notebook from last year. It was covered with art and doodles and little drawings that 4th graders do. He flipped through the pages past 3rd grade homework assignments also covered in doodles. He didn’t turn to a clean page, his mom wouldn’t get paid again until the first of the month and he had to save his paper, but he found a page that, though used, still had some space in it and started to draw.

He didn’t look up when he heard the door open, even though the children around him were whispering excitedly. He didn’t look up when he heard someone writing on the board. But he did look up when he heard a younger voice than expected say, “My name is Ms. Sharp,”

He looked up just as she was turning around. And the world seemed to stand still. The edges of his vision got hazy and “Dream Weaver” (you may want to sing a little here) started playing in the background.

In slow motion he watched blonde hair bounce around petite shoulders. In one moment he drank in the sight of her. She was small for an adult, not much taller than he was, and her face held a smile that he could loose himself in. For the first time in his life he got this funny feeling in the bottom of his stomach, and he really hoped she would assign him a seat in the front.

Ms. Sharp continued “I know that many of you thought you were going to have Mrs. Russell this year,”

That voice, he could loose himself in that voice,

“But Mrs. Russell decided to retire at the end of last year. I’m so excited to be teaching you guys, you are my first class ever, and I know that we are going to have a great year.”

Then she started to call the roll,  “Jonathan Adams?”

“Here,” he called.

“Magan Austin?”

“Here,” called a girl in the front.

“Michael Barber? Michael Barber?”

The guy next to Mike looked at him and nodded as if to say, “Hey, dude, that’s your name” Michael couldn’t do anything though. He knew it was his name, but he just couldn’t speak.

“Is there a Michael Barber here?” Ms. Sharp asked from the front of the class.

“Here I am!” Michael almost shouted, the words spilling out of his mouth like water out of a dam. He was so embarrassed, but she met his eyes and smiled and his heart melted into a pool around his feet.

 

Now on his way home from school he was making plans of their life together: Him, His mom, and Ms. Sharp all one big happy family.

The next day for school Michael did his best to look good. He begged his mom to let him wear his Sunday clothes, but referring to the state of his jeans she refused. He brushed his teeth, and even combed his hair. When he got to school he wasn’t the only little boy who had tried to look their best. The room was full of 9 year olds in slacks and dress shirts with slicked down hair, and from the smell of it some of them were even wearing after shave.

So began the love between Ms. Sharp and the boys of her 4th grade class. Over the next few weeks the number of boys in dress shirts dwindled, and the parents put a stop to the aftershave, but that didn’t stop the way they felt about Ms. Sharp, and none more than Michael.

 

During the second week of September Michael got two really important announcements. The first one happened Monday morning before school when his mom was fixing his cereal.

“Mikey,” she said, “You know that two weeks from now is your 10th birthday, and since 10 is such an important age I think you should have a party for all of your friends.”

Michael didn’t know what to say. He was so excited that he didn’t even eat a single bite of his cheerios. A real party with all of his friends.

The next bit of news came that Tuesday in the mail. He got a letter addressed to him. It was big enough news for a 9 year old to get a letter, but even bigger news was what was inside. It was a postcard that read:

Announcement from the principal
Mrs. Sharp’s B-day is September 25
We will be having a surprise party for her during last hour.
Since she is new in town we will be bringing house warming gifts.

It was right then that Michael knew they were supposed to be together. Their birthdays were only two days apart.

Michael started making birthday invitations that very day. He made them all by hand drawing each one on notebook paper. On each one was a picture. On some it was a picture of a red semi truck, on others it was a picture of a red robot. On the one for Mrs. Sharp, the one made not out of notebook paper but art paper, there were both the truck and the robot. It was both forms of the toy he wanted more than anything else the Transformer Optimus Prime.

The day of his birthday came and his mom got everything set up. They sat in their living room waiting for guest to arrive. At around time for the party some of Michael’s cousins showed up, but no one from his school was there. As the minutes passed his mom got that look that mothers get when she knows her son is going to get his heartbroken. She looked anxious, mad, and forced happy all at the same time.  At 20 minutes past time it seemed like no one was coming. Michael’s mom tried to think of people that she could call to make the party work, but as she was dialing the phone the doorbell rang.  At that moment in Michael’s eyes the party was a roaring success because standing at the door was Ms. Sharp.

They ate cake and ice cream and played some party games. Finally it was time to open the presents. When they were all laid out on the table Michael’s heart sank. There were no presents big enough to be his Optimus Prime. He rallied well and put on his biggest smile. He opened a couple of cards from relatives and one from Mrs. Sharp and netted 15 dollars. When he had opened the few other small toys he thanked everyone in the room. But his mom started smiling, “Michael,” she said, “This isn’t all of your presents. I think there may be one more in there in the closet.”

Michael was ecstatic. He leaped from his chair and dashed to the closet. He tore open the door and there in the floor was a box that was just the right size. He whooped as only a 10 year-old boy can whoop and did a little dance right there in the hall. Then he dove on the present. Wrapping paper went flying in all directions, while his mother beamed. When finally all of the wrapping paper was gone there it was shining in red and chrome—his Optimus Prime.

He opened it immediately and didn’t put it down until he laid it beside him in bed that night. As she was leaving the party Ms. Sharp had stopped and talked to Michael.

“You really love that thing don’t you?” she asked.

“Yes, m’am” he said and his eyes filled with tears at the joy that bubbled up inside of him. Ms. Sharp’s own eyes started to tear up to, and the two of them laughed at the silliness of the moment.

“Take care of that now” she told him right before she left. “I got a cabbage patch doll for my 10th birthday, and I didn’t take very good care of her. I carried her everywhere I went, but one day I left her somewhere, I guess in the park and I never saw here again.” She paused for a moment before she said, “Funny, I haven’t thought of that doll for years. I really missed that doll.” She paused again remembering. Finally she said, “So you take care of your Octrogus Prime thing.”

“Don’t worry Ms. Sharp,” Michael said, “I’ll take care of it.”

At the breakfast table on Monday morning Michael’s mother said, “O Mikey, we forgot to get Ms. Sharp a present.”

“No we didn’t,” Michael said, “I rode my bike to Wal-Mart and got her something yesterday.” He dashed out of the room. When he came back he had a oddly shaped little package that he had wrapped in the Sunday comic. “See,” he said, “I even wrapped it myself.”

His mom was a little nervous about what he could have gotten, but he seemed so happy about it and they were running late so she just let him go.

When he got to school he put his present next to all of the other ones. They were all wrapped in nice neat packages, with real wrapping paper and even real bows. Michael was a little embarrassed by his present so he put it in the back.

When it came time for lunch all of the students were sitting around discussing their presents. Some of the said they brought pots and pans, others towels and household items. Then Brad, his voice full of pride, said, “I brought her a Microwave.” He was greeted by the expected oo’s and aaa’s of the other children.

Michael was surprised and blurted out,  “How did you afford something like that?”

“What?” Brad asked.

“How did you afford to get her a microwave you must have been saving for a year to buy that.”

“Well I didn’t pay for it.” Brad said, a little taken back.  “Ms. Sharp goes my church so my parents decided to get her something nice that’s all.”

“But that’s cheating.” Michael said, his voice cracking a little as he tried to keep from crying.

“Cheating?” Brad asked, “No one bought Ms. Sharp a present with their own money.” He looked around at the confirming nods.

Michael didn’t know what to say. He put his head down and the other kids started to laugh at him. Just then Tommy Radcliff, sitting one table over, laughed so hard at his own joke that milk came out of his nose so all of the attention left Michael. Michael didn’t even look up at Tommy and his milk shooting nose. He just kept his head down and tried to think of a way to get out of school.

Unfortunately there was nowhere to run and Michael was stuck sitting in the classroom when it came time for he party. The principle wheeled the presents in on a big cart, singing happy birthday as he did. Michael slumped back into his chair. His ugly present was sitting there like a turd among all of the other pretty presents. He felt stupid and embarrassed and she hadn’t even seen his present yet. He didn’t even want to think about what he would feel when she opened it.

Ms. Sharp began to dig through the presents opening this one and that one and making comments on each. When she opened the Microwave she could only manage a small thank you Brad because she was so stunned. Michael noticed that she passed over his present several times to pick the prettier ones.

She doesn’t even want to open it, he thought. Maybe she will just ignore it and I can take it back when I leave.

She finally opened all of the presents but his. Then she said, “Now I’ve saved the best for last,” and began to open Michael’s present. As she pull off the comic wrapping her eyes began to water. Then real tears began to run down her face.

O great, Michael thought, she hates it so bad she is crying. As the present came out of the wrapping the others kids begin to snicker slightly and Michael slipped nearly below his desk. Just then the bell rang and he ran with all of his might for the door.

“Michael wait!” Ms. Sharp called just as he made it to the door. He stopped and slumped back into the room.

He stood before her desk as the rest of the students filed past him. The tears were still running down her face as she held tight to her present. (slight pause here) She cried openly as she held onto her new Cabbage Patch Doll.

“I can’t believe you got this for me,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” Michael said in a whisper, “I’ll take it back if you want me to.”

“Take it back! It’s the best present I have ever gotten. I just want to know how you paid for it.”

“I used what I got at my birthday.” He said the fear in his voice turning to pride.

“I was there,” she said, “You didn’t get this much money.”

“I know,” he answered, “but I figured that I had lots of toys and you didn’t have any so I took back my Optimus Prime so that I could buy that for you.”

“Thank you.” She said and her tears were flowing again. “I know how much this cost you. I will cherish it for the rest of my life.”

And Michael left the room that day feeling better than he ever did in his life.

THE END

Basic Sermon Outline

Michael’s gift was special not because of what it was, but because of what it cost him to give it. All of the rest of the children were giving gifts their parents had bought. It didn’t cost them anything. Michael was willing to pay the price. In 2 Samuel we find a story of David and the price that he was willing to pay.

Read 2 Samuel 24:18-25

I think many Christians in churches today are giving gifts that cost them nothing. For many Christians they look at the church attendance, and good deeds and all that stuff, and really it doesn’t cost them a whole lot. They aren’t giving up much to be there. Just maybe some free time, a party now and then, and a couple of extra hours sleep on Sunday morning. It isn’t like they don’t like God, actually they think they are impressing him, but they are actually giving what is left of their day instead of their first fruits. They are doing all that you can for themselves, and then at the end of that if there is time they are offering that to God.

God isn’t asking for your leftovers. He wants all of you, your first fruits. We have to stop being like Brad offering a couple of Sundays a month and feeling like we are really doing something for God. God doesn’t need you, but he wants you for your sake to give.

Things it may cost you

  1. Your money
  2. Your time
  3. Your comfort
  4. Your whole heart

This isn’t saying that you have to sacrifice to get God to love you. He already loves you. This doesn’t mean that this sacrifice will save you. You are already saved. It means that when you offer to God an offering that comes from you–one that you bought with a high price. You won’t be able to measure the return that you get.

You have that opportunity today. To offer to God not gifts that you have lying around, but a gift that cost you something. He has already given you the greatest gift in the world when he gave his life for you. You can choose to keep giving gifts that don’t cost anything, or you can jump into the joy that comes from giving all you have to God. If you begin to give to God all of who you are. You will be able to walk into life like Michael, with your head held high, smiling for all the world to see.