I have a special place in my heart for the homeless. Being that my dad was homeless when he died, there is a piece of me that hopes someone helped him while he was out on the streets. A kind gesture, a gentle encouragement, a warm meal; anything that would have been a small touch of light in his dark little world.
For the past year, our family had the opportunity to serve a group of people lunch once a month. Nothing official, just lunch on a street corner in a poor part of town. Some of the people were homeless, some were just down on their luck and wanted a warm meal. I can’t even begin to say what a blessing it has been for us to come each month, connecting with these people. Worn and tattered, dirty and sometimes smelling foul, these people with gap-filled smiles filled my heart to overflowing.
This is Wendy. She lives on the streets with her little dog. She grew up in foster care, lived a childhood that no child should…and now, here she is, over 40 years old and still hurting. My problems seem so minuscule as I pray with her.
And this? This is Henry. Henry had a father who never showed him love. He’s all alone in his world, living on the streets, plugging along. I can only imagine how each day must blend into the next. But Henry still has a smile on his face. He goes to church. He begs God for grace. And his smile is contagious.
These are our kids. Living out Jesus. Using their hands, their feet, and their words to help encourage others less fortunate than themselves. That’s my youngest daughter, my shy, quiet girl who is often terrified of strangers, reaching out, doing something so little, but so huge. Stepping out of her comfort zone to serve.
You see, we live in a bubble. We live in privileged area of the world, where people have homes and cars, where we don’t have to worry about whether we’ll be warm at night or where our next meal will come from. We don’t have to survive each day, we can thrive. We’ve been blessed immeasurably. Why? Are we more deserving than they? Did God choose to smile on us, and ignore the pleas of these dear people who beg Him for comfort? Why do our children get to grow up in a warm home filled with family, surrounded by friends, worrying about nothing other than having to go to bed earlier than they’d like?
I don’t know. I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure why some people have to struggle daily to survive, while I sit here with my coffee in hand, fire roaring, and my children giggling outside.
I do know that to whom much is given, much is expected. God has blessed some of us with comfort. Does that mean we should sit back, basking in our blessings, hoarding them to ourselves? Of course not. We are not given gifts only to put them on a shelf and admire them. We are given gifts to bless others.
This Christmas season, I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone. Find a way you can serve someone else. Don’t allow your gifts to go unused, rotting away on a shelf, building up dust. Shine your light to those around you. Make someone smile. Make someone laugh.
Give until it hurts, and you will be amazed at the joy you feel, and the least expected gifts you receive.