Two weeks ago I met a man.
I had been taking a friend of Savannah's back home after a fun sleepover. It was Saturday. 2pm. I dropped her off and with Savannah in the backseat, we made the short trip home. My guys were hanging at the church doing a few last minute preperatory things for the Sunday service and I had secret hopes of catching a quick nap when I returned home.
As I rounded the corner on my way home, I saw an older man standing on his back porch holding a sign that read "I NEED FOOD". Immediately my emotions were stirred. I looked around my car to see if I had a cereal bar or a juice box or something I could toss out the window to him, but even as I asked Savannah if there was anything in the back seat I knew God was asking me to do more. It was like I heard him say "He's your neighbor". I was crying by this time. Savannah had seen the man and the sign and I knew she was waiting to see what I was going to do. Since I couldn't dig up anything in my car, I knew I had to do something.
For a moment I thought about heading to the church and getting food from the food pantry. I knew there would be some nonperishables and some eggs and butter...and hey, that would be enough right? But that question still lingered..."Isn't he YOUR neigbor? Don't turn him away." So, as I made my final turn into the driveway of my home, I told Savannah to stay put and I would be back in a minute. I unlocked the house, went to the pantry and began filling bags with rice, pasta, canned vegetables, a brownie mix, I looked in the fridge and grabbed a dozen eggs and then opened the freezer and (here's where it gets good) I grabbed 4 ribeye steaks, 5 pounds of ground beef and a couple of frozen dinner type meals. I was able to do that because someone blessed us with giving us a 150 pounds of fresh meat this past winter.....so we were able to share our abundance with someone who had nothing. I love how God allows us to pay forward the goodness we experience. Under ordinary circumstances I never would have had that kind of quality meat at my disposal! Hot dogs...yes.....but not steaks!
So, we loaded the car, drove the route back to the porch where the man stood with the sign. I got out, handed him the bags and I looked up uncomfortably into the eyes of a 60ish year old man who was crying. I wondered what had happened to him, what had caused this man to end up hungry with no means to take care of himself? Where was his family? His children? What about a job, his health, his rent payment?
And I was reminded...it's our job, the family of God's job, to help the poor...the hungry....the outcast. God's admonished us to be compassionate and willing to share our wealth or ribeyes or vegetables with our neighbors. And I was reminded...that my neighbors have needs...some physical, some spiritual and I have a responsibility...to share what I have, to love them and to introduce them to Jesus.
As I drove off, Savannah heard me sniffling and saw a few stray tears. In Savannah fashion, she was concerned that my tears were "sad tears" instead of my usual "happy tears". She said she was glad we helped the man and I think as she was talking I heard a little sniffle from the back seat too. What a lesson she learned that day!
BTW, before anyone scolds me for doing all this without my husband or a body guard....or with Savannah in the backseat....the hubs gave me a stern scolding and instructions to never go alone again... and because I really already knew this I didn't argue. He's a good guy though...he said he would go with me next time. See, I'm blessed to have someone like him that realizes he probably won't be able to stop me ....so he joins me! Gotta love him!
And...please don't think I'm bragging and saying "Look what I did". My point in journaling this is to help me pay closer attention to all the opportunities we have to make a difference, share Christ, feed the poor...whatever. It's all around us... unless you're called to a foreign land....your ministry is your neighborhood. Right here...where God's placed you. I hope you'll be encouraged just as I was, to open my eyes a little more to the needs that are clearly right down the street from where I live.