As I was packing late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning (I had this great idea to only have a carry on, umm..what?!) I realized that I had 2 stowaways. My darling little Bug had packed some toys for me in my ridiculously over sized "purse" carry on (yes, I know I was cheating). What stopped me in my tracks was what she had packed. In one pocket, laying side by side, was a goat and a lamb. Immediately my mind went to this story...
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
As I looked at these two little figures in my hands I thought about the ministry I was going to be a part of that started when someone listened to God's tug on her heart and she gave sacrificially. I thought past the hectic, not sure if I can get out of the door moments and I thought, once again, about the true "WHY" of giving. Although it is amazing to see little ones rescued from the dangers of dirty water, it is touching to see mothers cry with relief for their family and it is powerful to see whole communities come to life through giving, the why, the real why, still remains that it is all for our sweet Jesus.
If we can quiet the world around us long enough we can hear Him calling to us.
There are so many different ways He says it in the Bible but it all comes back to the same place. Make yourself a servant, love your neighbor, the least will be the greatest, die daily... Basically give it all up and make Me your prize. Stop trying to be the best, stop amassing for ourselves, actually touch the lives of those around you, give a cup of water, share your tunic, grieve for the state of the world and the child that dies every 15 seconds from diarrhea.
I'm not sure how I had missed it for so long but over the last few months I have been reading the New Testament through and I have to say I was shocked at how clear Jesus makes it. And then if it wasn't clear enough in the gospels James comes through and makes it so clear you can taste it. The Words of Jesus on practically every page of the Scriptures point to the same place. Love God with our whole hearts and give to others. Period. I was so busy picking and choosing the verses that matched my lifestyle and the ones that would assuage my guilt (ahem, the poor will always be with you) that I didn't take the book as a whole. It is abundantly clear. Dangerously clear. Fearfully clear.
I still feel so far from accomplishing these things in my life but I know that God is moving and that He is faithful. Yes, small things have changed like the way I view shopping and spending. Some habits have a deeper hold than others (like spending on my child) but even those have the roots exposed now and the ax is being sharpened.
One site that is doing an amazing job of bringing poverty to light (and the goal of ending it) and providing some real stories of others that are working through the struggle and finding ways to impact their world and their family is Live58.org. I highly recommend checking it out.
Are you struggling through any of this too? Post a comment... share a story...
With a Thankful Heart,