No Trade Possible

Jacob Armstrong

When I was twelve, my most prized possession was my baseball card collection. I spent hours poring over the cards, memorizing the statistics on the back of them, and looking up their worth in baseball card magazines.

devozine Ken Griffey card insideOne card I wanted was not in my collection: a 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card. Being the first card from his first year made it quite valuable. Though I had never seen it, except in a magazine, I loved that card—and I wanted it.

From time to time, Nathan and I got together to trade baseball cards. Nathan was 15 and the coolest guy on earth. He had an incredible baseball card collection, which he kept in a three-ring binder with protective sleeves. One day, I was flipping through his collection when I saw it.

With trembling voice, I said, “You have a Ken Griffey, Jr. 1989 Upper Deck rookie card?”

“Yeah, it’s my best card.”

“Well, of course it’s your best card,” I said. “It’s the best card in the whole wide world!” I wasn’t very cool.

I offered a trade. I put all of my favorite cards on the trading block for that one card. Nathan refused. I could have put my whole collection out there, but it would not have equaled the value of that one card.

I realized that because I had nothing to trade for the card, nothing to equal its value, my only hope was to receive it as a gift. I asked my family to get me the card for Christmas; but it was valuable, rare, and not-for-sale in the local store.

devozine Jacob ArmstrongOn Christmas Eve, my extended family came over to exchange gifts. We were eating, playing, and being a family when I heard someone pulling into our driveway. I ran out to welcome Nathan. With a strange look on his face, he handed me a white envelope. Inside was the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey, Jr. rookie card.

I couldn’t believe it. The expression on his face showed he couldn’t believe it either. I hugged him. Now please understand, Nathan and I didn’t hug. He was 15, rode a 4-wheeler, and worked with livestock. Nathan just stood there with his arms outstretched while I hugged him. We never talked about it again; we didn’t know how. But I have never forgotten that extravagant gift.



Ex • trav′ • a • gant  (adj): going beyond what is deserved or justifiable

The resurrection of Jesus was an extravagant gift of life. Make no mistake—it was not a fair exchange. God saw the plight of God’s people, their brokenness, their hopelessness; and God gave them the one thing they needed: Jesus.

We can give our gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We can dress up and go to worship on Easter Sunday. We can offer ourselves in service to the poor. We can give a number of beautiful gifts to God, and we can be sure they bring joy to God’s heart. But the gift of Jesus, God’s son, is a no-trade-possible gift. All we can do is receive the gift and then latch on to the giver in some attempt to say thank you.



Read John 20:1–18. As you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the culmination of God’s extravagant gift for the world, consider what God is calling you to do. In response to God’s gift of Jesus, how can you give yourself to God? How can you give extravagantly to show another person God’s love?


Jacob Armstrong , pastor of Providence United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, claims for himself and showers on others the gift of God’s extravagant love. How cool!

—from devozine (March/April 2010). Copyright © 2010 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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