Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Button Man

“Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.” Kahlil Gibran

A man told me a story yesterday that is now part of my story. It is one of those moments that puts down roots and refuses to budge- as if you would ever want to forget it. It is a story-of-stories and it is as great as it is humble.

The storyteller is my husband who has recently become the chaplain at a rescue mission that serves the homeless. Homeless is an inadequate description of people who are not just lacking a home but all the other necessities. Hope is also often in short supply.

He told me a story and then placed something precious in my palm. Precious like homeless is also too small a word.

The chapel service ended and a well spoken man approached John and asked for a moment. He had no home and all he owned he wore or carried with him. He had been watching and listening to John interact with someone in the service.

The man wanted to give John a gift and John assured the man that no gift was necessary. The man persisted. He looked into John's face and told him he had seen the way John behaved towards someone as well as that individual's response. Then he reached down and pulled a silver button from his jacket and placed it in John's hand as a gift of appreciation and encouragement.

He had found a lovely button in his poverty and had sewn it into the inside of his coat just over his heart. It was his only treasure. The one thing that made him feel as if he had "something." He had nothing of real value to give as the world assigns value, nothing the world considered precious, but he did not let that stop him from giving. He trusted John to comprehend the weight of the gesture.

One      single      button.

I looked at that tiny offering now growing warm in my hand and I heard a faint beating sound that grew more distinct as I held its silver goodness. I heard the beating heart of a God who treasures such sacrifice. A God who understands that something even less than a widow's mite can be irreplaceable treasure.

It is an irrefutable fact that John will give you his saxophone before he will part with the button. It sits in a place of honor and in his line of sight in his office. It has fastened John to the work and has bestowed a generosity one has to go to Calvary to fully appreciate.

We are humbled and blessed by the button man's contribution to our Christmas and to our lives. His gift and friendship enriched us. He taught us to be aware of people's eyes upon us. May we unfailingly look to others like the One who loves them best.

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor so that by his becoming poor you might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9

(The button above is from an ad on Etsy as I did not have a picture of John's which is similar but has a lily on it.)


  1. I feel like you just put that button in my own hand. I am going to sew it onto my spirit and wear it so I do not forget what it says about Jesus and what it can say about me. If I didn't live so far away I would love to donate time to such a place. I was missing your posts.


    1. Have been involved in other projects so not as much time to write.I miss it as well.Thank you.There is an organization of rescue missions all across the country(I am guessing you are in the US)You can locate one on this link.They would be happy to have your help I am sure.Happy New Year.-Kat

  2. This is the kind of story you come out the other side of changed forever. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us the chance to hear it! -K

    1. You are welcome, Kim.I was amazed by the gesture.kl

  3. I know your heart, Kat, and knew if John was chaplain at the RM that you would be right there shoulder:shoulder with him. What a wonderful story - God uses the simple things of this world to remind us of His awesome ways. This reminds me of when Larry was chaplain at the Y-town RM and I had the maternity home. . .so many souls. . .so few workers. Blessings to you both in John's new labor for Christ. You share Christ's heart. . . RS

    "You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor so that by his becoming poor you might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9