Yesterday afternoon I drove around a rougher area of town giving out bread. It’s just something my wife and I do whenever Lighthouse Ministries has more bread donated than we need.
Usually people are happy to see me and only take what they need. No trouble, just happy faces. Yesterday, this streak of beauty came to a screeching halt.
While a woman with three kids was choosing her bread, a big man came strolling the street. I asked him if he wanted bread. He said “I’m a bad guy.”
Now I am somewhat familiar with bad guys, I even taught a group of federal parolees once and I worked at a federal penitentiary. Not to mention living in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Canada. Most bad guys don’t have to say they are bad.
Maybe I should have been nervous.
‘I don’t care if you’re a bad guy,” I responded, “Do you want some bread?”
His response was not what I expected. He stopped and started towards me and threatened that he was going to kick my butt. He used a different word but you get the idea.
Then a wonderful thing happened. The woman getting her bread, who by the way was even shorter than I am, told him to get lost. He didn’t listen. Then she told him to keep moving, that I was just being nice. I must say I don’t know how her voice changed from sweet and soft to mama bear like so quickly, but the guy stared at me, then her, and then left.
She told me not to worry, that he was just on drugs.
Not only was she defending me; she was looking out for me!
Right in the heart of a horrible area, this woman with very little, was giving all she had.
She reminds of another woman many years ago in a land far away. It was during the time when Jesus came in the flesh and walked on the earth.
Jesus and His disciples were in the temple. This would be like a church nowadays but was more complex and was foundational to life as a Jewish person at that time.
While this observation is about money it applies to other aspects of life as well. The woman with me had little to give. And what she did give, she gave freely. She could have taken her bread and left. She didn’t have to risk a confrontation. She didn’t have to put her two cents worth in on my behalf. Just like the widow in the temple who put her two copper coins in the box, this woman gave from what she had.
I have been other places and other times in which conflict has risen or threats were uttered. It is very rare to have some one step in. Nowadays many reach for their cell phones and if you’re fortunate, someone might call 911.
Perhaps like the rich people Jesus saw, they are stingy with their safety and so withhold help when even a word or standing beside someone in trouble could make a huge difference.
In a neighborhood in which living is not done only behind closed doors you come across all aspects of life. Life isn’t pretty. But Jesus did not come to give us a pretty life, He came to give us life in the fullest (John 10:10). Sometimes that means going out and giving what you have to help others.
We can have life in the fullest by giving of ourselves to others in need. Sometimes it will be the poor and downtrodden. Other times, it might be a brokenhearted rich person or a rejected and isolated leader. The truth is we hurt, and we all are in need of a savior. The greatest thing we can do is help people find Jesus and help them follow Jesus.
And we can help ourselves live life to the fullest as we help others live their lives to the fullest.