The Gift


Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
July 2, 1997

His parents acquired the washer when John Claypool was a small boy. It happened during World War II.

His family owned no washing machine and, since gasoline was rationed, they could ill afford trips to the laundry several miles away. Keeping clothes clean became a problem for young John’s household.

A family friend was drafted into the service, and his wife prepared to go with him. John’s family offered to store their furniture while they were away. To the family’s surprise, the friends suggested they use their Bendix while they were gone. “It would be better for it to be running, ” they said, “than sitting up rusting.” So this is how they acquired the washer.

Young John helped with the washing, and across the years he developed an affection for the old, green Bendix. But eventually the war ended. Their friends returned. In the meantime he had forgotten how the machine came to be in their basement in the first place. When the friends came to take it away, John grew terribly upset — and said so!

His mother, wise as she was, sat him down and said, “Wait a minute, Son. You must remember, that machine never belonged to us in the first place. That we ever got to use it at all was a gift. So, instead of being mad at it being taken away, let’s use this occasion to be grateful that we had it at all.”

The lesson proved invaluable. Years later, John watched his eight-year-old daughter die a slow and painful death of leukemia. Though he struggled for months with her death, John could  not begin healing from the loss until he remembered the old Bendix.

“I am here to testify,” he said, “that this is the only way down the mountain of loss…when I remember that  Laura Lou was a gift, pure and simple, something I neither earned nor deserved nor had a right to. And when I remember that the appropriate response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude, then I am better able to try and thank God that I was ever given her in the first place.”

His daughter was a gift. When he realized that simple fact, everything changed. He could now begin healing from the tragedy of her loss by focusing instead on the wonder of her life. He  started to see Laura Lou as a marvelous gift that he was fortunate enough to share for a  time. He felt grateful. He found strength and healing. He knew he could get through the valley of loss.

We all experience loss — loss of people, loss of jobs, loss of relationships, loss of  independence, loss of esteem, loss of things. When what you held dear can be viewed as a gift, a wonder that you had it at all, the memory can eventually become one more of gratitude than tragedy. And you will find the healing you need.


by John Claypool

(Insight Press Inc., 1995).

  1. francesgabriel75 said:

    So true. But a hard lesson to learn when we lose someone we love. Seems too much of a cliche to say ‘Better to have loved and lost …..’ but seeing that life as a gift would be the only sense we could make of it all.


  2. John Claypool was my father’s professor at Southwestern Seminary and was his mentor throughout his doctorate program and life. He was truly an amazing man. I attend St. Andrew’s Espicopal Cathedral in Jackson, MS, and years after knowing him through my father, he came to present the sermon for our new Dean’s installation, this would be Ed Bacon who is now in Pasadena, CA. Thanks for the memory!


    • Amazing!!!! I am often amazed at how God can join his children together in the most unsuspecting ways!!!!

      Take Care my Friend and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T


  3. Great wisdom in this story. Often the best lessons are learned from homely examples.


    • Who would have ever thought that a washing machine could make such a difference!!!!!

      Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T


  4. "Working for Christ" said:

    Great story, Kenny T! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Dave


  5. This is so true. Having experienced the loss of a child (premature birth…she lived 3 days in the hospital)…I can truly say that how you view the loss of the precious little one will determine how you heal from it. Thanks for sharing Kenny. As others stated above it’s a great reminder.


  6. Reblogged this on jeanbrunson and commented:
    I hope you enjoy this is a sweet reminder the importance of gratitude for the lives we have shared with loved ones.


  7. Jean Raymond said:

    Loaning someone something and them taking it back is usually not hard ,but certainly can be, especially if its a human being, and we believe they were a loan from God, BUT at least you can feel good knowing that God chose you to give His very precious gift of a human being, even if its for a short time. However, AS a human being,and NOT God, GIVING someone something, love, understanding, caring , promises etc, and taking them back because you believe the PERSON YOU GAVE THEM TO IS are no longer worthy and someone else deserves them more, can be life changing and devastating, and almost impossible to overcome. I wish it was only a washing machine taken from me. Then this story might even make me feel grateful. But it doesn’t. I’ve had to give back the “washing machines” many times, and survived it. I can and do understand and trust God. I don’t understand people who purposely use and hurt you. And sorry, I can’t make sense of it. Not with all the cliche’s in the world. Thankful for those of you who can.


  8. They say gratitude is the root to happiness, that without it happiness is false. Viewing anything as a gift is a beautiful way to understand someone or something we lose. Thank you for your post, it brought peace into my heart.


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