Hop on over to Bridget Chumbley's place and be blessed by all the wonderful bloggers who are sharing their thoughts on "community".
(*this is a longer than usual post from me.....but I promise I deliver a good message if you stay with me)
"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward him for what he has done."
So at first glance....this almost can contradict one thing I was always told "do not give to receive". But as I am digging deeper in my walk with Jesus....receiving doesn't necessarily mean in the tangible materialistic way that the world has us programmed to think. No, our God rewards us in so many more wonderful ways that far outlasts any money, treasure or possession. Yes......ways that you cannot put a price on such as peace and joy.
It is no mystery that money cannot buy things such as happiness and real peace......(sure, it can help when the electric company is calling for their money or the oil tank is low)....but just turn on the TV or flip through the latest edition of People magazine and see how miserable and lost many superstars are, who have all the money at their disposal. I wouldn't trade my shack on a Rock for their castles built on sand ever! (and for the record, I don't live in a shack....I live in a cute and cozy 1800 sq ft. contemporary ranch that yes, can get a little tight with the six of us and it might not be full of lavish furnishings and expensive collectibles....but it's full of comfortable furniture, hand-made art due to years of creative little hands.....and busting out the seams/walls with love.)
So getting back to being kind to the poor.....I'd like to share something that Josh and I experienced over the past weekend.
We saw an ad on Craigslist for some barn/fencing supplies. Not sure if you've ever priced livestock feeders, hardware and gates before, but finding them used at a good price is a score! So I gave the lady a call and made arrangements for Josh and I to go over her place the following day. (because surely I am not stupid or brave enough to go answer an ad ALONE that talks about someone needing some cash as they are getting out of the horse business, barn is starting to fall apart, etc. To me, that might indicate that there is a lot of space up in the abandoned hay loft for a body to be found, no?)
So we headed out first thing Saturday morning. We were on a time crunch, so I told Josh that when I originally called on the ad, the woman, Franny (not her real name of course) sounded a little rough....I just assumed I woke her up or maybe she was a little under the weather. But I gave him the heads up because it seems that we always run into some nice, but quirky people in our travels who love to talk and talk and talk. And it seems that God has my path cross with people who always want to talk about what is going on in their life to me. I guess I must have something on my forehead that says....tell me what you are going through. Most of the time, I am thankful that people feel comfortable enough to share what's on their heart and I know that God wants me to use this time to witness.....but if I am gonna be straight with you, sometimes I just want to buy my nachos and salsa and get home!
(this is in reference to a cashier who told me of how she just had nachos with an old friend who she hooked up with due to FaceBook. And how if she didn't take her step dad's name when she turned 18, then she would have been in contact with so many other friends on Facebook. In fact, she wouldn't have missed her 20th reunion if she had her original last name that she had in elementary school. But she hated that name because her dad walked out on her mom when she was seven....so no-one knew how to contact her.
Hmmmmm, all I said was that I needed my nacho fix while paying.
*note to self.....if in a hurry, do NOT make eye contact or speak.....just smile and say thank you while walking away)
Back to recapping the conversation on phone...
Franny told me that she was getting rid of the items due to an impending divorce and how she needs to start getting rid of stuff because she is planning on moving. But first she needs a job because she has two older children, one who has a broken pelvis due to a motocross (but he was wearing his helmet) and the daughter doesn't work because she is on drugs. She wants to keep some of the feeders because she plans on moving to another place and get horses again and maybe start breeding Mastiffs again. She used to breed Labradors because they were a sure flip for money, but her Lab died last year from a tumor they found in her uterus.
Yes. I got this all in the first three minutes and here I was only calling to get a deal on some feeders. I can not make this stuff up.
We arrived at the driveway and it had wrought iron gates with gorgeous stone columns. The gates appeared that they were rusted open and there was brush growing through the broken iron wagon wheel accents.
We drove up the dirt driveway.....it was probably about 1/6 mile before we saw the barn on our left. First thing we notice is the roof, or what was left to it....it was collapsed in some areas, and the tarps that were covering the other part were flapping violently in the wind. There were pastures on each side of us.....individual grazing areas that you could tell have been neglected over the past year(s) as fencing was down....overgrown brush everywhere.
Then we saw her.
Franny was a middle age woman with long frizzy hair who was dressed in ripped jeans, flannel shirt and had a baseball hat on. Perfectly normal for a farm gal (infact, looking at how I just described her....I kinda fit that description). But as we got closer, she looked alot older....but not in a typical natural aging way....more of a hard life "older". She appeared to have mascara/eyeliner on from the night before....slightly smudged. She held a coffee cup and cigarette in one hand and waved with the other. She started walking over to us, then bent down to grab a branch out of the way and her hat fell off. There was a line where golden streaked hair met three inches of gray and black roots. She grabbed her hat, stood up while adjusting her pants and her top button popped open on her shirt, exposing her bra a little bit. She didn't notice or care.
oh boy. I whispered to Josh......let's make this QUICK. She looks like she is still loopy from the night before.......Grab the feeders, pay her and let's get out of here.
But as I got to shaking her hand....I looked in her eyes and the only word that came to mind was broken. Although they squinted a bit with her smile as she said hello.....all I saw was sadness and emptiness in those eyes. It was then that my conviction began. A feeling of guilt, sadness and pity started to come over me.
We got to talking with Franny as we were walking along her property to look at some other gates/equipment she had available.....and found out more of her story. She told us about how her husband walked out on her and her children and left them with nothing. Apparently he was a prominent business owner who made some poor decisions with his company and was charged with some other crimes as well. She spoke about how she's been scraping by this past year and it's time to sell the farm/house and find a new place to live.
As she was talking about her hardships....and there were many, including an affair and abuse.....I started to think about how she must have been living to where she is now.
As I looked around, I could tell that this property definitely was a gorgeous 140 acre farm at one time. I imagined perfectly manicured pastures and horses grazing.... an equestrian paradise.
And to look at it now.....the dilapidated barn, rusted lifeless tractors and the overgrown pastures was a representation of Franny's life. I can imagine her to have once been dressed in high end clothing, hair and nails kept neat and walking about her property with pride and joy. The breed of horses she mentioned that they raised are a very expensive elite breed. And now she tells us that she gave them all away for free.....in fear that she would not be able to feed them over the winter.
Before we knew it, an hour had passed. Franny poured out her deepest secrets to us. At times she welled up with tears.....and at times, I did as well. We exchanged contact information and Josh told her he would see about any job openings that might be available at the casino. I gave her the number of my friend who does real estate.....not to pour salt into her wound, but to know that my friend is honest and fair and would not take advantage of her in the desperate situation she is facing. I ended the conversation by hugging her and telling her that I would be praying for her. She lifted up her eyes, now sobbing and told me that she prayed everyday too.
We left Franny feeling heartbroken. We talked all the way home about her and her hardships. Something was weighing on my heart. I just felt that although we don't have much, I wanted to help this woman some how. We talked and prayed and decided that we were going to visit her again this week and tuck a little extra money in an envelope for her. Matthew 6:1-4 reminds us to not talk about or announce what we are giving.....so forgive me for mentioning this.....(and believe me, it isn't anything to boast about)...but I wanted to talk about how we are supposed to/commanded to reach out to poor, broken and lost as Followers of Christ.
Now when we got home, I called my friend to let her know that I passed her number along. She too had heard about the story of this family.....but also heard a different version. Her version was that the wife of this prominent business person had issues with drugs and alcohol and drove the business into the ground.
Of course, from what we saw and being completely honest.....this was not a story that could not also be true. And it very well may be.
But we are still heading over tonight.....to drop off this gift. It is not our job to judge this woman....it is our job to give/help without expecting anything more from her. In our hearts, we pray that she uses this money to put a dent in her electric bill or buy some groceries. If she chooses to use it for drugs/alcohol.....then so be it. God knows our heart and intention.
When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. ~Mark 2:16-17
And who are we to judge? And can I tell you something else that has been placed on my heart after meeting this woman? Who are we to think that what happened to this woman, could not someday happen to us? Not necessarily turning to drugs/alcohol if that is indeed the case......but being in this state of helplessness and desperation? Franny is just one example of the bondages that the enemy sneaks in and holds us captive. She is displaying it for all the world to see.....how many of us have our own private hells and bondages? We all have times of feeling broken and desperate, it doesn't only have to be a financial brokenness. And while we are on the subject, in this fallen and unstable world, I believe that we all are one or two mistakes, weaknesses, screw-ups, poor financial decisions, lost employment, or unexpected sickness from our worlds being turned upside down like Franny.
Think about it.
So with that.....I'll leave you with this.....
Proverbs 19:17 tells us that when we give to the poor (or the lost, the broken, the desperate).....we are lending to Him. And from what I know about our God.....He never leaves a debt unpaid.
Peace and love~