It was a very cold morning in January. There was a thick, crunchy frost outside and water was frozen in the pipes throughout the house, causing us all to skip breakfast.
When I came in from feeding the chickens (who fortunately had water) I found my three younger sisters gathered in the living room, each playing their own game of solitaire—with their own brand new decks of cards.
The only deck I had was practically falling to pieces.
I asked Mom if I could have a new deck, knowing that there was a drawer full of unopened decks in one of the end tables. She told me that I could have one of the old ones out of the coffee table.
Somewhat disappointed, I began to search among the piles of cards in the coffee table. I couldn’t find a single deck that was useable. I angrily threw the cards back into the box and slammed the lid. Then I huffed down on the couch with my arms crossed.
“What was that all about?” asked Dad, who was sitting on the other couch with Mom.
“Oh, she’s just upset because she can’t find a deck of cards,” Mom replied nonchalantly.
“I just wanted to have my own deck that wasn’t ruined,” I said, tears starting to run down my red-hot face.
Mom left the room and Dad made a joke about my temper being like his--that certainly didn't help. Then he briefly left the room, returning with a deck of cards in his hand. One of his own decks.
He offered it to me, but I refused.
“I don’t want your cards,” I said quietly.
Dad said it was O.K. and that he had lots of them. Setting the deck on the mantle, he left me alone. I stood there until my tears had dried, then went to the kitchen where Mom was making lunch.
“We have a whole drawer full of brand new cards out there,” I said accusingly.
“I know,” Mom answered gently. “I was going to give you one when you stopped acting like a brat.”
“I didn’t mean to get upset. I just wanted a new deck.”
“I can’t remember the last time I had my own deck of cards. Of course, all the ones I get are really fancy ones too pretty to play with…”
Frustrated, I stalked back out to the living room and stared at the deck of cards that seemed to be the cause of all the trouble—the ones Dad offered. It was a beautiful blue deck with a box that was still almost new looking. I knew the only way I was going to get any new cards was sitting right before me, but I still didn’t want them. Just because Dad gave them to me when I was mad.
Things around the house began to go badly. The dog snarled at and almost bit my brother for no reason. The twins were fighting over a place to stand by the stove. It was still cold. I was miserable.
After lunch, I went to Dad in the kitchen. Silence hung thickly for a few moments.
“Thank you for the deck of cards,” I finally choked, a huge lump in my throat.
I left the kitchen and took the cards off the mantle. I was about to play a game of solitaire—just getting the cards out of the box, when I heard Mom and Dad coming. Suddenly embarrassed, I shoved the cards back in the box and hid them.
Every time I get those cards out to play, I remember that day. I think that I can understand some things better now because of it.
In the Bible, it says that showing kindness to your enemies is like heaping hot coals on their heads. That’s why I didn’t want the cards when Dad offered them, because during that spell of bad behavior I became his enemy. By offering the cards, he showed kindness to me.
Maybe that’s why many people refuse to accept God’s gift of salvation. Because, as sinners, we are His enemies. He shows us both kindness and mercy through the crucification of His Son. Instant hot coals on our heads. Trust me though, accepting His gift is the only way to get rid of those coals—and be saved for eternity.
And just as I was embarrassed to be seen playing with my new deck of cards, so many Christians may feel ashamed of their faith. Instead of hiding it though, I beg you, get out your deck of cards and play. That’s the only way to own it.
I won’t play with any other deck of cards now. I like being reminded of that day now. Of the understanding I acquired and the impact it made on my life.
Proverbs 25:21-22 KJV "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat...For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head..."