I wore this old sweatshirt the other day – and it made me happy. I didn’t buy it. In fact, I wouldn’t have bought it. It’s not my style or my favorite place. It’s a little too simple and plain for a sweatshirt – if I were spending the money. Yet, it’s one of my favorite sweatshirts, and I have a bunch. The older I get the more my wardrobe is determined by comfort rather than style. I quit wearing suits and ties every day about thirty years ago, and I gradually stopped wearing them on Sunday about twenty years ago. “Don’t need no clergy garb!” Truth be told, that’s about the time I grew out of all my 42 regular suits and I didn’t want to replace them. My wife bought me a new suit a couple months ago. First new suit in, oh, about fifteen years. I was a 44 reg back then. Two months ago I fit comfortably in a 48 reg. Something’s wrong with that! I think they’re making smaller suits now. Anyway, my point was that I’m pretty much a T-shirt wearer when it’s warm and a sweatshirt wearer when it’s cold. Simple, comfortable, and practical. Me! I guess I own twenty-five or thirty sweatshirts. Yeah, this is my favorite.
Why? A friend bought it for me about a dozen years ago. We were at Disney World with our old small group friends from Tennessee. We were celebrating our anniversary and surprising Donna, who thought it was going to be just the two of us. The weather had been nice, especially for winter in Orlando, but on the evening we went to watch one of the outdoor Disney productions, the temperature took a sudden plunge. Most of us were in shorts and T-shirts and we weren’t about to give up our good seats at a Disney show. Some brought jackets and some of us didn’t. I was really getting cold. Then out of the blue, one of my buddies came up and handed me this sweatshirt he bought for me at one of the stores there in Disney World. I didn’t ask for it or even hint that I could use one. He just did it. It was so nice to slip that thing on and feel it warming my upper body. I didn’t care what it looked like or what was advertised on it. It was a wonderful gift from an amazing friend. That’s the kind of guy Bob is, and that act of thoughtfulness turned that sweatshirt into a king’s robe for me. I actually don’t wear it that much now because I see it wearing out, fading, and suffering from closet shrinkage. I save it. Friendship and love give it value. Being a gift from a friend – makes it a precious memory.
We just celebrated Easter. A celebration of the greatest gift ever given. It was the gift of a beloved Son, the cancellation of a debt we couldn’t pay, and the promise of unshakable grace that we’ll never fully understand. Love not only gives it value to us, but it also gives us more than enough motivation to to treat it with respect and devotion. “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow” – and then some! Friends do stuff like that, but only One Friend gave the gift that allows me to be holy in the sight of God when I know how unholy I really am!