It should not surprise you that my internal wrestling concerning the poor didn’t soon end. Jesus always finishes what He starts. My heart still needed work.
A series of “random” events ensued. I met the manager of a local food pantry. Walking past a particular location I became aware of people lined up on the street at a local soup kitchen.
I decide to volunteer.
When I returned, a human chain made up of multiple ethnicities and languages crowded the sidewalk. My hands began early that morning filling grocery bags with food for those in line. Sharon,* the lady in charge, shouts in her thick New York accent, “NEXT!”
The line inches forward, each standing close to the person in front of them, infringing on personal space. Each individual represents a story of loss. Some wear a face of shame, some of fear, others exhaustion. The elderly, homeless, disabled, and mothers with little babies, all wait for their turn to be “next.”
Sharon’s “NEXT!” made me chuckle. Those who were regulars smiled at the call . . . newbies shuddered a bit.
Uncertainty flooded a new face in line. She is next. She doesn’t speak English. The only way to receive the groceries she needs is to have a phone number to add her to the system.
She is silent. Without a voice. Humbled by life circumstances. She gratefully receives her supply of groceries.
The line moves on. Bags are handed out left and right. Hunger is satisfied for another few days.
As I served these precious people I couldn’t wipe the ridiculous smile off my face. Joy was spilling out and over my heart. Healing it of its sin. My back never hurt so good. Thank you, Jesus for commanding my hand.
I headed home. Pulling into my street I see a familiar figure – the woman searching the neighborhoods’ recycling bins for cans.
Redemption. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to respond as I should.
To my surprise there is a small bit of cash in my wallet. Thank you, Jesus.
Standing there in the light rain, I ask if she needs help. She cannot speak English.
My hand thrusts the gift into hers.
Her eyes widen and, face to the sky, she points up, motioning as if acknowledging the gift has come from above.
And so it did. I confirm that exchange with the same hand gesture.
The Lord extends His hands to the needy. Sometimes He uses a former miser in the exchange.