Before I left for my journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, I wanted to have a significant gift ready to give my oldest son, Jeremiah, when we reached the summit.
I thought long and hard about this gift. In fact, I thought about it for almost as long as it took me to prepare for the trip. I wanted it to be as meaningful for him to receive as it was for me to give. I knew I had to carry the cross, some supplies and my Bible (the one I’ve studied since the day I was saved), but I needed to make room for this present, too. I finally hit on the perfect gift to take along: a small knife.
Growing up, I used to visit a speech pathologist every week because I didn’t speak clearly. I would never have imagined I’d end up in an occupation that would require me to stand up in front of people and speak. As a junior in high school, I met each week for speech lessons with a private tutor.
I hated these lessons. I always had so much to work on. Each week, my teacher gave me a speech to read. I would go home and practice, only to return the following week and stand in his living room to read the assignment aloud. He would make me stop and read it over and over, pronouncing each syllable correctly. I had a difficult time with the “th” sounds. Most of the time, I substituted the “d” sound. That meant words like “mother” or “father” sounded like “mud-der” or “fad-der.” My teacher would make me pronounce these words over and over until I got them right.
I don’t remember just how it came about, but before I knew it, I had entered the 1968 Missouri State Royal Ambassadors Speakers Tournament. It’s one thing to take speech lessons, but to actually give a speech? That was unthinkable. The theme for that year’s tournament was “Let Others See Jesus in You.” I had to write and present a three-minute speech on that topic. I’m not sure what I wrote, but I spent week after week standing in my teacher’s living room practicing that speech.
The tournament was to take place on a Sunday night in a church 30 miles from my home town. My speech teacher and a couple of our Royal Ambassadors leaders drove there with an extremely nervous young man. When we reached the church, I discovered I was the only boy who had entered the tournament.
At last, the time came to give my speech. I walked up to the pulpit with every eye focused on me, sweating like it was at least 150 degrees in the room. As I began to speak, my body shook and my voice broke.
I don’t remember a word I said, but I was glad the speech ended in only three minutes. My teacher told me how proud he was that I had taken on a difficult challenge and followed through. That night, I went home the winner of the contest (never mind that I had no competition). But two other things happened as well. For the first time, I felt like God might be calling me to the ministry, and my speech teacher gave me a little box with fancy wrapping. Inside was a small silver pocketknife engraved with the words, “Let Others See Jesus in You—Walker Moore.” I was glad to have this special symbol of a unique time in my life.
I had to give my speech on several other occasions. The final time, I presented it at the Royal Ambassadors Convention at Eldon, Mo., First. I’ve treasured that pocketknife all of these years. I knew it would make a wonderful gift for my son.
I carried it up the mountain in a plastic bag. I forgot to take the knife from the last camp to the summit, but just a few hours after we reached the top, I was able to give my son the gift that represented such a major turning point in my life. I had a hard time explaining its significance, but somehow, through my tears, he understood.
During this Christmas season, may all your gifts reflect the greatest Gift ever given, the One who received special gifts of His own: “On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11).
On this and every Christmas, may others see Jesus in your gifts . . . and in you.