Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Who do I think I am?


I'll never get caught up with telling you the unfolding story of our life. I guess I really can't live with that pressure. You, faithful readers and every-now-and-then peruse-ers do not put that pressure on me. That's not the point of a blog. I've had a hate/hate relationship with the inter net lately. I'm not good at keeping up and then this blog, the podcast, my website, etc looms over me and even checking email starts to feel like work. Well, no one pays me for this blog and it should be a pressure release rather than a pressure um...putter on-er. So with that said...I blog...

Last month, our friends took a collection and gave us a little trip to Disneyland...something for which we have been praying. It was so awesome when I finally got to go to AAA and lay the money down for a full 2 day package. We have never gone away to do something like that as a family. Our vacations are always to go see relatives (which we love and would never want to change) and getting away on our own seemed a bit impossible. But it wasn't because with God, working though a beautiful community of sacrificing friends, yes, it can happen. Even something frivolous andunnecessary. Ok, lesson learned. If it's a good idea to God, he can make it happen if we ask AND leave it to him. That's also part of the deal...being willing for it to not be a good idea and accepting that. But this time, it seemed a good idea. Great! Life, peace, freedom, excitement and experiencing God in new ways as with mouths wide open at something we could have never made happen on our own steam.

Even fuel and food were covered! So there we were, on our first day in the park and we took a break for lunch. Having enough for one food splurge a day, we went to Red Robin, a great burger place with a nice atmosphere and refillable fries. We had our meal and Amie and I were waiting for the boys to come out of the wash room when a homeless man with a distressed look on his face rounds the corner coming toward us.

My thoughts began to race..."Oh boy, here we go. He's going to ask me for money. What's my position on this?" And then you start to go through the pro/com list..."Well, money will make him just go away...what's required of me? This is my vacation. What's he going to use it for? Isn't it wiser to give some kind of food? That's what we always tell mission teams when they come to work with us. I don't have time to get quick food. Better just go with the standard line..."

This man makes his way over to us and cannot really speak. All he can muster is some mumbling and then, "dollar?" And then, without too much thought (just a lot of presuppositions) I give the standard, "I don't have a dollar for you, sir." Respectfully, with a smile. See, the operative word is "FOR YOU. Oh, I have a dollar for me and my family. We're having a good family time together and I don't want topropagate any of your bad habits so I have no money FOR YOU."

Crisis averted, the man shuffled away. And I heard God, through my conscience, clearly speak. "Who do you think you are? Here you are at Disneyland through the sacrifices of others and you don't have a dollar for this man?" I couldn't believe myself! I quickly looked around for the man but he had walked away, nowhere to be seen. Conviction hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, in a way, the man and I make our income in exactly the same way. I ask people to support us so that we can be free to pursue God's calling on our life. He had no guile, he was not conning me, he simply, very simply, asked for a dollar. Here I am, a "street worker" and I don't have time to fish a dollar from my wallet padded with the beautiful sacrifices of brothers and sisters. I had to repent then and there. God help me.

We did have a great time. On our way home, we stopped for one last hurrah at the Home Town Buffet (I know, I know but it our boys favorite place) in Bakersfield. As we left the perfect, beautiful facades of the whole Disney scene (there are no homeless on main street USA) and descended once again into the central valley we got the sense that the fantasy, however fun, was over. We parked behind Hometown near the dumpster, the cracking cement and dirty smell indicating that something is definitely wrong with our way of life.

In front of the store there was an older woman standing under the awning out of the rain and crying, begging for money. Her story was that she needed $10 for a bus ride to get to her daughter. I've heard it many times before. And in came the pros and cons. And so did my fumbling words, "Uh, well, I don't know if I have ten FOR YOU...", knowing full well what was in my wallet. And then, peace as I opened to my ten, lifted it out and pressed it into her hand as so many have done for me. "God bless you." She cried and thanked me. I went in and had a disgusting buffet with my family, out of the rain.

I am not responsible with what people do with gifts I freely give. Who of us doesn't pamper themselves a little when we have come through a stressful situation. Who doesn't long for the comfort of their bed, a hot coffee, a little extra money or the distraction of a TV show or movie? Or what about our legal, expensive therapy or pills. There is no policy of being human. We are more than a set of standards. We have a beating heart and a will to choose but we lock our hearts away behind false policies of "we only give food" or "they will only use it on drugs".

Yes, there are cons...I've been gotten by the best of them. Yes, there is discernment and sometimes giving is not the best. But we must move out of our ear being pressed close to the Father's heart and when we feel it swell with compassion, we respond.

"Freely you have received, freely give" Matt 10 : 8

3 comments:

Mark said...

"Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back."
Luke 6:30 (New International Version)

Our God is our provider, and regardless of where the money comes from we are responsible to God for how it is spent.
I believe the same when I give to the homeless and others in need. If they're running a scam, they will be accountable to God for that money. If they're buying drugs or alcohol, they are accountable.

I love your blog. I'm glad you and the team are back safe from Thailand.
Love in Christ Jesus,
Mark

Mary said...

Chris-

It is so hard not to look at the bigger questions while living day to day and hearing God. I've been sturggling with the same thing in different areas, working in the social system. For me, it comes again and again to clarity and obedience...

Keep blogging-I read...

JD said...

pretty honest words because we have all had those thoughts. i hope the trip to Thailand was fruitful and you blog about it soon.