It was several years ago that I heard a statement that I can never seem to get out of my head and my heart (not that I want to!). My husband preached a sermon on compassion and had given every family in the congregation a token reminder of this principle:
He had been in a drive-thru at a local restaurant when he looked down and saw on the pavement a lonely penny. In his mind, he was thinking of how little value that penny had in today’s world. Many of us would walk right past it without even considering picking it up. It was in that moment of pondering that the Holy Spirit gently reminded him that every person matters. There are so many in our world that we just pass by or ignore (not always on purpose), without considering whether or not they were put in our path for a reason.
I have to admit, this is an area I’ve often struggled with. When Doug and I were in seminary and serving in Texas, he was pastoring a small church located right on the interstate. Because our small trailer was a few feet from the church building we would often get knocks on our door–day and night, transients with all kinds of needs. Some were looking for food, others would ask for gas money or help finding a place to stay. Our policy has always been to help without giving cash because experience taught us that many wanted only cash so they could support their addictions.
My struggle comes when I see the overwhelming needs and my capacity to help. I need discernment to know when and how to help. I MUST trust the Holy Spirit to impress upon me when to step up and do something. I must be AWARE of opportunities right in front of me and I MUST be willing to be inconvenienced.
I never want to forget
I certainly can’t help every one, but I can help someone! Once a year our local crisis pregnancy center distributes baby bottles as a way for people to collect their loose change and support their ministry. After contemplating again today what more I could be doing, I thought I’d do this year round, using my own “COMPASSION JAR”…
I’ll collect my family’s loose change (when it’s full it’s $25-30!) and choose someone to give it to every time it gets full! One of my favorite ways to minister to the homeless is to buy $5.00 gift cards for local food chains and give it to them so they can buy a meal. I know that doesn’t seem like a lot, but if I can start being intentional about being compassionate, maybe–just maybe–I’ll get to see those pennies turn into something valuable.