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