Confession time. I am a proud and prejudiced woman.
Okay for this to make sense you need to have some background. I grew up in the south side of my city. I have never known the south side of any city to be known for it’s stellar schools and parks, nor for it’s clean streets and perfectly manicured lawns. So, what this means is that I grew up seeing need and sometimes poverty. It was a way of life. No big deal. I became numb to it and eventually learned to look the other way.
The thing about being in our part of town was that there were always some do-gooders who brought their unwanted items and gave them to us to make our lives better. While I appreciate what they were trying to do, I hated them at the same time for the pity that was so obvious in their eyes. I did not need their pity. Pity is crippling. It tells me that I am hopeless and need someone else to help me. While I may not have had a closet full of shoes or the top name brands hanging in my closet, I had a mother who loved me and sacrificed more than she wanted to make sure we came up godly. This bred pride in my heart for those who wanted to help. It also bred prejudice towards those who had more than I did. I did not need help from anyone and I certainly did not need pity. How arrogant was I? I spent a good deal of time working to get out of that neighborhood and I did not look back once I was gone. It was too hard. I left many of my friends behind. Friends that would not come with me, friends that could not come with me.
Yesterday, I looked back. I thought it would be easy. I thought it would be like going home. It wasn’t. I felt out of place and uncomfortable. As I looked into the eyes of those who were there, I realized they looked at me the same way I had once looked at those do-gooders. I didn’t belong here. I didn’t fit in anymore. Many would only see the need and poverty and loss of these lives and focus on that. Many would attempt to fix or heal those lives with things and clothes and money and food. It was yesterday that I realized that I was not witnessing poverty of material wealth, I was witnessing the poverty of spirit. There was no hope in their eyes. There was no hope for the future. There was no hope that God would meet them. The only hope I saw was in the other do-gooders who were there. I was humbled. I felt like an ungrateful, proud, arrogant woman. Not because I have so much and they have so little, but because I have a hope and a future and many of them did not know that they too had a hope and a future. Matthew reminds me of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount…Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I truly believe that.
HOPE…it’s a valuable commodity. It’s something that can’t be purchased. It can be stolen but it cannot be bought. It can’t be given but it must be accepted. I can offer hope to someone, but unless they accept it…they do not have it. HOPE. I was reminded that Peter and John did not offer the lame man silver or gold but he offered that lame man Jesus. That gift resulted in that man’s changed life. The walking didn’t change his life, the hope in Jesus changed his life. The only way one can get hope is to be found by Jesus. Now, God can find anyone anywhere whenever He wants to. BUT the miracle is that He gives us the opportunity to be a part of that process. He allows us to go to the places where there is no hope and offer it. Many times, the places where there is hope-deprivation are not the places we would choose to go, but that is exactly where we Christians should be. The shelters, the orphanages, the poor and dark places. While we may offer to meet physical needs we MUST NOT forget to offer the one thing we have that is of TRUE VALUE…JESUS!
I don’t even know how to end this. It feels as though there is no resolution to this post. Maybe that’s the way it should be.
Until another confession…