“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to cause many ripples.” Mother Teresa
Poverty. This can mean many things to many people but most see it in a negative connotation. However poverty opens up many doors we would never get the opportunity to walk through otherwise. Let me explain what I mean.
Downtown Chicago, 2014. It was late afternoon and I had just crossed the DuSable Bridge on foot and was taking in the sites of the famous “Magnificent Mile” on Michigan Avenue. It was an extremely busy afternoon, the sun was shining and well dressed shoppers bustled about from shop to shop. As I continued my walk through the endless stream of people, my gaze was drawn downward. Sitting on the sidewalk by one of the many concrete planter boxes that line the street, was an African American woman who seemed to be in very dire straights. She was by herself and not asking for help but instead stared at the ground, despondent and weeping. I paused for a split second to take in the scene because it was so startlingly out of place. Person after person continued to walk past her…maybe hundreds or even thousands had passed her by over the course of the day.
“Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.'” Luke 10-30-32
I made my way to her and putting my hand on her shoulder, I knelt in front of her on one knee, introduced myself, asked her name and inquired about how I could help. With tears streaming down her cheeks she explained, “I have been sitting here all day asking for help and no one has even talked to me.”
“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody…I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty, than the person who has nothing to eat.” Mother Teresa
Over the course of our conversation and in the midst of the passing crowd I was able to pray with her, speak the Fathers’ truth into her ear, that she was deeply loved by God, listen to her story and help her in a practical way. I believe the Lord guided the conversation that day and He (not I) get any and all the credit. I am just grateful for the opportunity to have played a role in what He was doing in her heart and life at that moment….what an honor.
“‘But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him….Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell….?
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.'” Luke 10:33 & 34, 36(a) & 37
Poverty is all around us. Not just physical poverty but also spiritual poverty, as could be reflected by the multitudes who passed by the woman in need that day. There is a direct correlation between the depth of our walk with God and how we treat those around us, especially those who can do nothing for us. I believe my “chance” meeting was actually a “divine appointment” where God, in His great wisdom, had a guy from Oregon be in that place at that time to give a specific word of hope to a soul who needed to hear it. The Good Shepherd is always searching….
You and I have countless opportunities (I know that I have also missed many of these) to reflect the light and love of Jesus in this dark world. If you choose not to, heir of God through Christ, then who will? “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit in your life and don’t let the fear of being “different” keep you from obeying His direction. The blessing of stepping out in faith in this manner can be as rich for you as it is for the person you’re speaking with. Train your eyes, mind and heart to see Jesus Himself in their faces and remember His words, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, YOU DID FOR ME.” (emphasis mine) Matthew 25:40
“Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.” Rich Mullins