Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron was leaving football practice one afternoon when he noticed a young man who had been watching the action through a hole in the fence. Afterward, the kid had attempted to flag down a bus for the ride home, but it had sped away without him. McCarron had taken it all in from his pickup truck, so he drove over and offered the young man a ride.
Ironically, the young bystander’s name was also A.J. He was twenty years old and a die-hard Alabama Football fan. A ride home with the Tide’s famous quarterback was almost like dying and going to Heaven. The two guys talked about football, sports, and life; and the athlete discovered that his jubilant passenger was afflicted with a profound case of cerebral palsy. The next day, McCarron spoke to one of his coaches and snagged A.J. Starr a job as one of the equipment staff volunteers. For an ordinary kid in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, standing on the sidelines with the Crimson Tide is better than a job at the White House!
A gift that may well be a defining moment in one young football fan’s life cost A.J. McCarron fifteen minutes, a couple of dollars worth of gasoline, and a quick conversation with a coach. For A.J. Starr, it was priceless.
At Christmastime the magazines and airwaves are awash with glossy advertisements offering diamond studded watches, seductive fragrances and high tech wonders for the most discriminating tastes. You can spend thousands of dollars to purchase thoughtful gifts which will be appreciated and then forgotten by the people that you love. And generosity is never a bad thing, not even amid the most materialistic season of the year!
But all of us know some people who would be encouraged a lot more for a lot less. I’m talking about that isolated neighbor who would be so richly blessed by 20 minutes to simply talk about her life and her thoughts with a nice friend like you. There’s that senior adult who’s afraid to drive in holiday traffic, but might truly delight in visiting the mall with you to take in the sights and sounds of Christmas. I’ll bet there’s someone just a few doors down who has no plans for Christmas and might jump at the chance to visit your church with your family for a Christmas Eve candlelight service.
In the spirit of Christ, we should all be more attentive to the Lord’s little ones this Christmas. Even if don’t have a surplus in your bank account this year, there are treasures you can give from the abundance of your heart.
Lift up the Cross!
You can read more about A.J. McCarron in ‘Sports Illustrated;’ November 25, 2013.