As I breathed out a long, deep sigh, a stream of hot water pulsated over my worn-out body. Leaning my head against the shower door, I allowed the warmth of the water to comfort me.
It had been a long day pulling weeds and planting vegetables in the garden, and a nice warm shower was my only desire. I propped my head against the wall with my eyes closed and allowed the hours of dirt and sweat to pour off me.
At that moment, an unsettling thought crowded my mind – this shower was a privilege and a luxury many people couldn’t afford, and something I’ve taken for granted will always be available. Humility filled my heart as stood in a shallow pool of water with wet hair and a soapy sponge ready to wash my worries and cares of the day away.
I often joke with my husband that I wouldn’t make a good homeless person. I liked my comfortable bed and my warm pajamas. I couldn’t possibly live in a cardboard box with him– no matter how cute he was!
“I am a high maintenance type of woman,” I declared, flinging my reddish-blonde hair over my shoulder for a little added effect.
Thinking about that statement, I realized how self-righteous and entitled it sounded. Something my Grandmother always quoted, “There by the grace of God go I.” It’s a reminder to me that I’m, but one blessing away from being that person I criticize.
The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls, is about her life growing up in poverty and living on the streets, or cars, or broken-down houses not fit for human living. She described days of going without food, or sometimes if she was lucky, cutting away the maggots from old meat because the insides were still good. On really good days, she would find half eaten food people threw in the garbage and would share it with her siblings – a Thanksgiving feast!
The shack they lived in West Virginia didn’t have running water so taking a bath, especially a hot bath, was not an option for her. She would carry buckets of water up from the stream to provide enough water for a sponge bath, but it was never hot.
And here I am in a clean shower with hot, water cascading all around me. How blessed am I?
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminded of all my many blessings. But as I reflect, I ask myself– do I mirror God’s character? When people look at me, do they see Him?
Jesus was the first to feed the thousands, and he often ate with the prostitutes and beggars. Jesus called me to follow Him. Do I follow Him? Or, do I rush by the person on the street asking for food, instead of stopping to talk and offering him a sandwich?
Do I take a minute to hold the door for the struggling mother with a child on one hip and the other dangling from her arm? Or, do I hurry by her because I don’t want to be bothered?
Or, what about the person on the corner with a sign “Homeless- will work for food!”? What are my thoughts? Do I immediately judge him and the choices he’s made? Or, do I lovingly offer him the “Blessing Package” I have in my car with supplies of crackers, water, socks, and a few dollars? And was it given without judgment?
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or s stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” – Matthew 25:44-45 (NIV)
As we spend time this Thanksgiving with our families and friends, let’s give thanks and ask God to show us ways we can reflect His love and character to others.
“Thank you, Lord, for your blessings in my life. Show me ways I can be your hands and feet. Provide me with the opportunities to do for others because I don’t want to miss doing for You!”
For those who want to know what a “Blessing Package is:
- Gallon size Ziploc bag
- Toothpaste/ toothbrush
- Hand sanitizer
- Mini water bottle
- Gloves/ scarves
- Feminine products (for the females)
- A note card with “Jesus loves you.” And a couple of dollars in the card (if you want to).
You can put just about anything it in but from my experience these work best. I normally get items from the Dollar Store or Family Dollar.
I make up one or two and keep them in my car. Then I pray and ask God to put the person in my path who needs to receive it. But remember you have to be willing to stop, even if you’re in a hurry when you feel the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit. I’ve ignored it before and have always felt sorry later.
The people I’m led to give the package to are usually very honored to accept of the gift. But what I receive no amount of money can compare.
Also, ask for their name so you can pray for them later.