Some time ago, I stated I would make a blog entry on feeding the hungry. My body let me down, but ironically, I am back at the same spot. it has been a difficult Christmas, not due to finances, but because of my Prodigal Daughter’s determination to keep me from my grandchildren until I disown my other two daughters, my son, and their children. She flatly stated I could have her and her kids as my family, or I could have the rest of my children and grandchildren. I had to choose. I could have her and her kids or "those people". Of course, I chose both, and she cut me off. Last Christmas she let me see them for about 40 minutes at Del Taco to give them their presents. This year she won't talk to me, so even that is gone.
Yet, this is not an entry declaring my misery. Last night was wonderful. I haven't been able to get to Costco to resupply myself with shrimp and have been grumbling about the lack to the last few days. I spent yesterday finally getting Christmas cards ready and paying bills [long overdue bills]. I was tired, rather vertiginous, and yes, very depressed. Onna came home from work, got into sweats, sat down at her computer. Naturally, I decided to help her relax by insisting on her driving me to the Chinese buffet where I could get some shrimp. Um...I mean I kindly suggested she...etc.
I was not up to driving myself so I didn’t take, “I’m tired and I’m relaxing. I don’t want to go out again!” as a final answer. Eventually, she decided it would be more relaxing to take me than to put up with my requests.
Just before we left,Onna talked to Cory on the phone and I found that he and James had spent the day together, just enjoying each other. This filled me with pleasure. I love my family standing together. It eased the pain of my Prodigal Daughter’s harshness. At least some of us know the importance of family and enjoy our unity.
We all got ready and as we were headed for the door, [literally!], the neighbor called. The package I had been waiting for had been delivered to them. We stopped at their house and picked it up. I was feeling better already. Shrimp was coming, my boys had been together, the package had arrived. Nice.
Onna had been fussing about a present she had bought for herself which she had to repurpose for someone else. The store she worked at was out so she felt out of luck. We went to a local store from the same chain, and there it was. I bought it for her and she was happy, me too as I like to buy for my kids. As we walked into the store, a young man, looking about 18 or so was sitting at the entrance -- well groomed, nice looking, so I dismissed my first thought, that he was looking for money. On the way out, after we walked past, he called out, reluctantly, and asked if I could give him some change. Obviously asking was hard for him.
I asked if he was looking for money or a food. He said food, so I looked around and realized Del Taco was right across the street. I told I’d buy him a meal and asked Onna to drive over to the restaurant. As we walked over, he said thank you, quite a polite young man. I told him, as I do under such circumstances, that a man needs to eat. I also told him that once I tuned a man down and he looked so sad I never turned anyone down since. “And that was 30 years ago.”
It was, too.
I almost thanked him for giving me the opportunity to help out. I do feel that way, but I think it might be hard for those who are in need to understand that it is a blessing for me to help. I have fed I don’t know how many over the decades. Not a few. If I feel good when I do it, it makes me feel better. If I feel ill or depressed, it lifts my spirits.
We left him to his meal and went onto shrimp. On the way home, I was very joyful. Quietly so, but deeply so. The smell of the food, the nearness of Onna and Dion, the way the day had so suddenly turned from hard and depressing to happy and content, The glow lasted all night. Really until today when Joan’s nonanswer brought back the sadness of loss at Christmas.
Now, let me paste a parable in here:
Jesus was in the court where were the treasure chests, and He watched those who came to deposit their gifts. Many of the rich brought large sums, which they presented with great ostentation. Jesus looked upon them sadly, but made no comment on their liberal offerings. Presently His countenance lighted as He saw a poor widow approach hesitatingly, as though fearful of being observed. As the rich and haughty swept by, to deposit their offerings, she shrank back as if hardly daring to venture farther. And yet she longed to do something, little though it might be, for the cause she loved. She looked at the gift in her hand. It was very small in comparison with the gifts of those around her, yet it was her all. Watching her opportunity, she hurriedly threw in her two mites, and turned to hasten away. But in doing this she caught the eye of Jesus, which was fastened earnestly upon her.
The Saviour called His disciples to Him, and bade them mark the widow's poverty. Then His words of commendation fell upon her ear: "Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all." Tears of joy filled her eyes as she felt that her act was understood and appreciated. Many would have advised her to keep her pittance for her own use; given into the hands of the well-fed priests, it would be lost sight of among the many costly gifts brought to the treasury. But Jesus understood her motive. She believed the service of the temple to be of God's appointment, and she was anxious to do her utmost to sustain it. She did what she could, and her act was to be a monument to her memory through all time, and her joy in eternity. Her heart went with her gift; its value was estimated, not by the worth of the coin, but by the love to God and the interest in His work that had prompted the deed.
Jesus said of the poor widow, She "hath cast in more than they all." The rich had bestowed from their abundance, many of them to be seen and honored by men. Their large donations had deprived them of no comfort, or even luxury; they had required no sacrifice, and could not be compared in value with the widow's mite.
It is the motive that gives character to our acts, stamping them with ignominy or with high moral worth. Not the great things which every eye sees and every tongue praises does God account most precious. The little duties cheerfully done, the little gifts which make no show, and which to human eyes may appear worthless, often stand highest in His sight. A heart of faith and love is dearer to God than the most costly gift. The poor widow gave her living to do the little that she did. She deprived herself of food in order to give those two mites to the cause she loved. And she did it in faith, believing that her heavenly Father would not overlook her great need. It was this unselfish spirit and childlike faith that won the Saviour's commendation. -- From http://christianbookshelf.org/white/the_desire_of_ages/chapter_67_woes_on_the.htm
When you give to someone in need, don't do as the hypocrites do--blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get
So why am I talking about this ? Aren’t I blowing my trumpet? Aren't I looking for praise and my immediate reward?
Not even close. I spend a tiny amount of money to feed a few hungry people for a few short hours. One meal. I get immense satisfaction from doing so. But in Christian terms, what I should do is much, much more. By American standards I am not wealthy. Yet I have enough that I could give much more. The story is not what a great guy I am. It is simply that small acts of kindness bring their own blessing. I do not deserve praise for this. I do far less than I could do, far less than I should do. I am not even close to the level of she who"hath cast in more than they all." But neither am I so low as the hypocrites. Let’s face it, I take care of my family first, which is good; but then I take good care of me. That's not bad, but I do far too little with what I have.
So that part of my story is simply about giving an occasional hand and how good it makes me feel. The whole of the story is about one evening of joy in a time of pain. We take what joy we can in this troubled world. We should always strive to make the world, each day, a slightly better place for having us living that day. That’s all I mean to say. I put in the parables to make it clear that I am not bragging. From a Gospel viewpoint, I have nothing of which to be proud. Still, the whole evening was memorable and precious.
I wish everyone a very happy and blessed Christmas. Believer or Doubter, I wish you all well. And I sincerely believe God loves you deeply. Peace on earth, to men of good will.