My heart aches from an experience last night. I was going to prayer meeting at the church and saw a man I knew as Rod going through a box on the bench in front of the soup kitchen. I thought it may be a donation that had been left there. “No,” he said, it was a food box given to a homeless couple. He was delivering it for them. I froze. I had seen a couple sitting there a lot lately. The day before, I caught the man smoking pot and asked him to leave.
“Times are real bad right now for a lot of people,” Rod explained. “It is hard out here on the street.” He, too, was homeless but he had a bicycle he could transport their box with. “I’m just trying to do the right thing by helping.” He watched me as I fumbled for words. I was on the spot and he waited to see what I would do. I walked inside the church, allowing the couple with their dog to resume their place on the bench beneath the “no dogs” sign.
These are the type of people Jesus sought out to minister to. They need our acceptance as much as they need our hot meals and our bench to sleep on. They also need a bathroom, which is available at the gas station next door but someone has been using a convenient area behind the recycle bin. The dog left its own “presents” around the parking lot even after I previously asked the lady to clean up after him.
I joined my friends inside but my mind remained on the lady outside. She and her friend were breaking the rules. If I were in her situation, I would want my dog as a source of comfort. She never cleaned up after him, but she always looked tired and seldom spoke when spoken to. My autoimmune disorder leaves me very tired most of the time however I have a nice home to retreat to. I couldn’t imagine what her life was like. I couldn’t pray for her then ask her to leave when I knew she had nowhere to go. By the time I headed out to talk to her, three more men had joined them.
I waited for one of the women in the prayer group to go with me. We told them they could rest there but they couldn’t stay. “City Ordinance” we said. Hypocrite! That’s how I feel. I pray that I have another chance to talk with her. How I wish there was a shelter in town for the homeless!
Would you allow the homeless to camp on church property? What should I have done?
On a clear night, away from city lights, you can look up into a sky sprinkled with 2,500 stars. Since two or three stars can appear as one, there are likely even more. Beyond the naked eye, scientists estimate our galaxy contains 100 billion stars. Our Milky Way Galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies. Is the number of stars getting astronomical yet?
Now think of the speed of all those stars and galaxies. Our planet rotates at the equator at 1,040 miles per hour and orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour. Stars like the sun travel at 43,500 miles per hour, while the entire solar system orbits around the Milky Way at 514,495 miles per hour and the Milky Way rotates at 600,000 miles per hour.
All of the rotating and orbiting goes on simultaneously through all the galaxies. Think of all that synchronized motion. How can there not be a God?
A God that big has the power and, most importantly, the love to help each of us in our own daily challenges. When we feel overwhelmed, all we have to do is look up and know that the same God who made the stars is right here with us. Trusting God is the key that frees us to live with peace and hope.
What do you think or feel when you gaze up at God’s sparkling display?
(Star facts taken from Science Illustrated, July/August 2011, p. 58-59)
Have you had a good laugh lately? It will improve your health and relieve mental stress. 3000 years ago King Solomon wrote, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) Modern medicine has finally discovered why. Researchers at the University of Maryland say that smiling increases blood flow while tension decreases it. So a hearty laugh literally does a body good.
I recently read it put a different way: “Laughter does more than help us escape our problems. It sometimes gives us the courage to face them. As humorous author Barbara Johnson has said, “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper. It doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it makes things more acceptable for awhile.”” (God’s Little Devotional Book, Honor Books, Inc. 1995)
So have a good laugh, not only will it lift your spirit, it will improve your health.
What is something that has made you laugh?
I have so much around me to be thankful for. Three large picture windows in my living room give me a wide view of the green meadow lined with timber. Playful calves run beside their mothers and mingle with the horses. Today some wild turkey wandered through and at dusk the deer filed in for their nightly grazing.
Wow, that’s just one view. Add to it my wonderful family filled with love and health, some precious friends and a compassionate church family. God blessed me in many ways, but I don’t always feel grateful.
Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy that there “are six threads of abundant living which produce a tapestry of contentment.
Gratitude is when we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all we have and realize we are rich indeed. Gratitude gives way to:
Simplicity, the desire to clear out, pare down, and realize the essentials of what we need to live truly well. Simplicity brings:
Order, both internally and externally. A sense of order brings us:
Harmony which provides us with the inner peace we need to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
Beauty opens us to
When I read Sarah’s book, I realized that gratitude is not a feeling but a way to think. When we weave the six “threads” together they form a shield against the chaos of life. Chaos can rob us of joy. Sometimes we have to fill our minds with the rich blessings given us before our emotions will follow.
How do you regain the joy of gratitude when you are feeling low?
(Breathnach, Sarah Ban, Warner Books, 1995, January 3.)