Monday, May 21, 2012

The Poor

Often the heart embraces the unexpected, and when it is gone it leaves a little aching space behind.  Over the days and nights of twenty-eight years, those gnarled old oaks put roots down deep inside of me. I miss them, will always miss them. They held a little girl with pony tails as she reached for the sky on her swing. They carefully embraced children and then grandchildren as they climbed the branches. Silent sentinels, witnesses to the swiftly passing moments of our lives.

To look at them you would never guess the secret hidden deep inside. Battered by winds strong enough to break limbs they stood upright, and I marveled. Because, although to all appearances they are strong and invincible, I knew that they were rotting from within. When you get close, the gaping holes are visible, revealing the decay within.

We have beautiful oaks at the new house. I am getting to know them . We are surrounded by open fields and distant houses. It is a lovely neighborhood, and I have been getting to know our neighbors too.

I've been reading with great conviction and hope the words of Christians who are out to change our idea of church. They are reaching out to the poor and needy outside the church walls and being to them the hands and heart of Jesus in practical, loving ways - reaching out to people in their neighborhoods who have overwhelming needs for the simple basic things of life. It isn't until those needs are met that we can begin to address the spiritual ones.

I thought about that today as we drove through our neighborhood. We are blessed to live in a place where there are no apparent needs. No one seems to lack for a good home, food, clothing or any other material thing. Like my old oaks, they are, to all appearances, doing just fine.

But what about deep inside? Might there be a deep huger underneath the well-fed, well-dressed surface? Are there poverty stricken people living right next-door in the nice house with the beautiful landscaping?

He has placed me here for His purpose. I feel that deep inside. We have done our best to help others (I am married to the most selfless, giving person I have ever met.), but I must be careful not to miss the "poor" right under my nose.

 Help me, Father, to be Your hands and heart. It doesn't come naturally to this shy introvert, but there is grace.