Yesterday, my mom and I were driving during our Goodwill marathon, and I declared, "I've been thinking..." Very dangerous words sometimes, but it really was something I've been thinking a lot about. I went on to describe my hesitation with Christmas gifts this year, and the struggle I am having coming up with whether to ask for actual gifts or whether to ask that volunteering be done or a donation be made to an organization in lieu of a gift. I have recently been overwhelmingly struck by the notion that I am so incredibly blessed even in my "tough" times. My mom and I discussed that we have never been without food, clean water, shelter, or sanitation. Even now, I am typing this blog from a laptop personal computer, in the comfort of my own home, with electricity.
Today, my mom came home from church and was telling me about the message on the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:13-26, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18-23). The preacher then talked about how wealthy we are in the United States. If you have a mattress on your bed, you are wealthy. If you have clean water, you are wealthy. If you have food, then you are wealthy. Please don't misunderstand me, I believe there is so much more to the story than the fact that Jesus tells the young man to sell all his belongings. In fact, I will touch on that in a minute. But, that doesn't diminish that in today's society most of us are truly blessed and we may not realize how much so. Ok, so my side note about the depth of the story beyond material possessions. Jesus realized that the young man had made his money and possessions his idols. So truly for him to follow Jesus would mean that he needed to sell everything, in order for God to be his God, rather than money. My short interpretation and attempt at explanation pales in comparison to Praxis pastor Justin Anderson's sermon from October 11, 2009.
But I digress. My main point is to illustrate the disparity felt in much of the world. I understand that poor people exist in the United States as well, but even being poor in the United States means you are light years ahead of much of the rest of the world. So tonight, I saw this quote/prayer:
Grant us grace, O Father, not to pass by suffering or joy without eyes to see; give us understanding and sumpathy; and guard us from selfishness that we may enter into the joys and sufferings of others; use us to gladden and strengthen those who are weak and suffering; that by our lives we may help others who believe and serve you, and project your light which is the light of life.
- H.R.L. Sheppard
For me this was the perfect expression of my heart. I was struck by the fact that I can do something every day that will positively impact the lives of others, specifically those who have less. So, my encouragement to all of you, is to do something. In the words of Nike, "Just Do It." It can be large or small, but everyday try to do something that reaches out. Something very simple would be visiting The Hunger Site. If you are like me and have trouble remembering to visit a specific site other than your email, make it your homepage. That way when you access the internet you will have an automatic reminder! I want to be clear that I don't believe every single one of us is called to sacrifice to the extent the rich young man was for others. But I do believe that every one of us is called to do what we can.