Please welcome my friend, Kirsten Holmberg as a guest blogger today. Due to the recent death of my Grandmother, our family is in Oregon. Kirsten's message blessed and challenged me. May your heart be open to hear the truth proclaimed in this devotion.
In addition, please check out Kirsten's newly released book, Advent With the Word: Approaching Christmas Through the Inspired Language of God. Kirsten's tentative insight to Scripture will cause you to rethink the cultural hype and commercialism of Christmas. Join her in the Advent journey of truly keeping our focus on the Word made flesh.
His eyes were a piercing blue. I might never have known.
On Sunday, our church supplied everyone with a ‘care package’ of sorts for us to give to a homeless person or someone with similar need. The cinch sacks contained a blanket for a cold night, a fresh pair of socks, some granola bars, a beanie, a small gift card and a water bottle. Stowing it in the car makes it ready for giving when the need presents itself. One morning this week, as we left to run errands, I nearly took it out of the car because it was something of a nuisance underfoot.
But I didn’t.
As we looped around town, checking off our list items one by one, I didn’t realize my kids were on the lookout for a recipient. And they found one: a man, sitting on the far side of the intersection where I was turning right. His cardboard sign read “Homeless. Veteran. God bless.” The kids begged me to stop.
But I didn’t.
I turned my car, and my heart, away from his need. My list wasn’t yet finished. I didn’t want to circle back… it was inconvenient. We ducked quickly into the next store. I identified the item we had come to purchase and hastily slapped my debit card on the counter. Dashing back to the car, they asked again, “Mama, can we go back and give it to him? Please?”
Reluctantly, at first, as I was still thinking only of what remained to get done. We pulled into a nearby parking lot and, together, walked toward him with the package.
The simple contents of the bag were of great encouragement to him. He was injured while working and has since lost everything he owned. He’s had some success in finding occasional day- and week-long jobs, but is still digging out of the financial carnage. He sleeps outside and worries about having enough food to eat. We talked for a while; he engaged my children in conversation and inquired about us, too.
Whether his story is unique or not, whether it is riddled with embellishment (or even fallacy) or not, ceased to be of any concern to me.
What struck me so deeply was his humanity.
As we spoke, I looked him in the eyes. They were a brilliant royal blue, striking against the backdrop of his tanned skin and unshaven cheeks. He looked me in the eyes, as well, and we exchanged a thoroughly civil and enjoyable conversation. Connection. Between two people.
As we parted, I wished him well. And I meant it. I no longer saw merely a cardboard sign advertising a need. Now I saw a man. A man who Jesus loves ferociously. I was so thankful to have had something to give him. And so chastened by my reticence to deliver a gift (one I had no part in purchasing) for the mere inconvenience of it. To my great shame, I deemed myself too busy spending my money on superfluous items to stop to meet his very real relational and physical needs.
As Jesus marked His steps to Jerusalem to face the cross, a blind man shouted for Him just outside Jericho, begging for his sight (Mark 10:46-52). Despite the magnitude of what lay ahead of Jesus, how daunting His task, He stopped, called for Bartimaeus and healed him. He didn’t consider Bartimaeus an inconvenience. He didn’t consider Bartimaeus a disruption to His to-do list.
Because Jesus sees the man.
Lord, give me your eyes. Let me be your hands and feet.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking
in daily food, and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without
giving them the things needed for the body,
what good is that? So also faith by itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.
– James 2:15-17 ESV
So glad to see Kirsten here today! Great message of compassion.ReplyDelete
Hugs to you both!
Kirsten, it's nice meeting you here. :) What a beautiful reminder you share in this post. I look forward to reading your Advent book.ReplyDelete
Hester, I'm sorry to hear of your grandmother's passing.
Thanks, Susan and Cathy! Your encouragement is a blessing. Hester, we're all standing alongside you in the Spirit.ReplyDelete
Kirsten, thanks for bringing us along in your reaching out to this man. You "nail" that elusive piece in the giving to a stranger--connection, between two people. And now many more. Well done!ReplyDelete
Thank YOU, Tami, for so succinctly saying what took me a great many words more to tell!Delete
What a special opportunity for you and your children to share! Seeing that people are no different than me blows my mind probably every time! Thanks Kirsten and sending prayers Hester! ~ Blessings out from Maine, AmyReplyDelete
It was awesome, Amy! It is, exactly as you said, mind-blowing, how the common humanity bonds us across all differences.Delete
Thank you friends for sharing your comments with Kirsten - I appreciate your continued support even through my absence. Blessings to you all, Hester ;)ReplyDelete
Kirsten, With all of my travel and trying to catch up on "life" I forgot to share this story with you - too timely not to. Thank you for your example. :)ReplyDelete
On the day before your devotion posted (and I of course knew what it was etc.), we were traveling south on I-5 to my family. We stopped at a very busy rest stop close to Salem. There were two ways to the ladies room - to the right or left. I went to the left and walked up the stairs, but with the flurry of people barely noticed the woman sitting on a cement wall by the stairs under a tree. She had a cardboard sign, "Anything will help." She was early 60's (which she would later tell me while she waits for her 1st social security check). I could tell life had worn her thin.
Immediately, I wondered her plight but knew we were on a tight schedule and needed to make this stop quick - take care of potty business and get on the road. The Lord prompted (while I was taking care of business) that I should go visit her. And almost immediately I began the excuses and justifying with God why we really didn't have time etc. We didn't really have any extra money (which for whatever reason is what I'm normally led to give). So, on my way out of the restroom, (in order to not have to face her) I went the opposite way back to the van.
And then, the Lord reminded me. "Remember that post from Kirsten that is going to post tomorrow? On your site Hester? The one about the homeless guy? Remember?" I began to think how hypocritical it is of me to post a devotion on this very thing if I can't even live it. The Lord nudged, "Do you really not have time for this woman? Just go visit her."
I really want to please God and it's times like these that I have to really trust Him. This isn't the first time I've reached out to a homeless person, but I don't always know what to say. As I walked over I quietly asked God to help me love her as Christ would.
I sat next to her, introduced myself, and we chatted for quite awhile. (David was with the boys and like I said it was a busy rest stop and they were detained for a bit with a long line in the men's room.)
Her name was Barb and she was living out of her car waiting for S.S. I asked about her family and told her of mine. She asked about our trip and she offered condolences for my Gma's death. She was a very nice lady and my heart went out to her.
One by one my boys emerged from the bathroom and they too met Barb and we all chatted with her. We shared what we had from our snack box in the van and she was very appreciative.
She told us thank you for visiting and wished us well. We waved while we drove away.
This opportunity humbled me b/c sometimes I think "money" is all these people want/need. When in fact, I think a friendly conversation, eye contact and love reach deeper into their heart than their purse.
"Oh God thank you for your grace and mercy and for the courage to reach out and love Barb. I pray that she experienced You through me."
Thanks for moving me to tears on this topic again, Hester. Oh, how good of God to show us over and over how to love and how many forms it takes. This is an enormous encouragement to me!ReplyDelete
Bless you Kirsten! Thank you, Much love, Hester ;)Delete
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