Mr. Vladimir had gone to town to pick up some boxes and bags of donated items that he was supposed to distribute in his small, remote, poor village in Russia.
After everything had been loaded, one of the brothers said, “Here, take this jacket with you. I’m sure someone in the village can use it.” And he handed him an brand-new but old-fashioned children’s jacket.
In the village, he distributed the things among the church family, but nobody wanted the jacket. So, Mr. Vladimir and his wife Anna got it. Since the weather had already become warmer, Mrs. Anna placed the jacket with the rest of the winter clothes in the attic.
The short summer passed quickly and gave way to a rainy autumn with its cold winds and morning frost. The children were eagerly waiting for winter so they could go sledding and play in the snow. Every morning, they ran to the window to see if it had snowed yet.
Finally, the first snow had fallen, and the children raced outside to go sledding by the river with the gently sloping bank. Only Andrew stood there looking sadly at his siblings. He would have loved to go along, but his jacket from last year was already too small for him.
All of a sudden Mrs. Anna remembered the donated jacket and retrieved it. It fit Andrew well, but was gray and looked like a work jacket. The parents were trying to teach their children humility and were especially happy about Andrew. He was already in the second grade at school; however, he never told his parents that he would like to have things like his classmates did.
When the boy went out into the yard, he was surrounded by his siblings. The older ones laughed at the sight of him, as no one would wear such a jacket nowadays, but the younger ones pulled Andrew by the sleeve: “Finally you can come down to the river and go sledding with us!”
Before the children left, the father remarked: “Andrew, you have a good jacket. In my childhood, it would have been the best gift. It is so warm and comfortable. We should be very grateful to the Lord that we received it.”
At first, the neighbor boys mocked Andrew’s jacket, but he remembered his father’s words and payed no attention to the boys, who quickly lost interest in teasing him.
Three weeks passed; winter returned in all its harshness. So much snow fell that even the high fences disappeared under a white blanket.
One evening, when the whole family was gathered for prayer, Father says, “Children, you know that the hay is running out. We cannot feed both of our cows for the entire winter. But the Bible says we should cast all our cares on God because He will provide for us. Let’s thank Him for thinking of us and loving us. Let us ask Him for help.” The family prayed with all their hearts. The older children cried because they loved their cows and could hardly believe it: Would they really have to sell their animals?
The next day, the children went sledding at the river again. When they came home in the evening, Andrew handed his mother a few colorful slips of paper: “Mother, look what this is! I found it in my jacket pocket.” The mother raised her eyebrows in surprise: “That must be money, son,” she guessed.
“It was in the jacket,” Andrew said happily. “Look, there’s a zippered pocket here that I hadn’t noticed before.”
“What can you buy with that?” asked one of the boys. “I don’t know, I’ve never seen bills like these before,” the mother replied. “But tomorrow Father is going to town and he will go straight to the bank and ask what it’s worth.”
In town, the father exchanged the bills for Russian rubles. With it, the family could buy much more than just the hay they needed. They were able to buy flour and sugar and even some sweets.
As the family sat together again in the evening, the father looked at each of the children and asked, “Can you remember how we asked God for help two days ago?” All the children nodded; they remembered it well. “God is faithful to His word; He has provided for us. Now I’m going to read you the verse from 1 Timothy 6:6. Think about why I chose this verse of all things: ‘Now godliness with contentment is great gain.’”
The children became thoughtful; the older ones bowed their heads, ashamed. They remembered how glad they were that the old-fashioned jacket fit Andrew and not one of them.
The father asked, “Do you understand whom God has blessed?” The children remained silent; they understood that God values humility and wants us to be content and grateful for all things.