We’ve been studying Indian culture and history for school, the Gupta Empire to be exact. Yeah, I didn’t know what that was either until I started teaching the lesson.
Anyway, we’re nearing the end of the home school year which means I’m nearing the end of my rope. In an attempt to jazz up the day’s lesson for my five kiddos, I decided to buy fabric to construct a traditional Indian sari. Notice, I said construct. Not sew.
Thrilled to find what we needed on sale, we headed off to complete our foreign experience by buying some chapati bread at an Indian grocery store. Notice I said get. Not make.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, we spotted a man resembling a thin Santa Clause, dressed head to toe in denim and holding two signs that read, “Very hungry” and “Will work for food” at a busy intersection.
It seemed like ten “Why is that man there, Mommy?” came all at once. After my lame attempt to respond, a sorrowful despair settled over our minivan.
My middle child broke the silence. Apparently, someone at the home school enrichment program she attends warned her, “not to give them money or they might waste it.”
My oldest added that the neighbor girl said “to always look at their clothes.” According to her, assessing the condition of a panhandler’s apparel indicates a real need vs. a manufactured one.
Troubled by these messages, I launched into a lecture about how God sometimes asks us to meet a need with food. Sometimes with money. Always with prayer. I waxed eloquent about how it is our job to keep our hearts open to those who suffer regardless of why they do.
My lecture did not penetrate the sorrowful despair and confusion that still hung in the air like smoke.
We didn’t have a wad of cash to hand this man.
We didn’t have a job to offer him.
We didn’t even have the chapati bread we had set out for in the first place.
My mind went back to a powerful message I heard from author and anti-human trafficking activist Christine Caine. She spoke about how overwhelmed the disciples must have felt staring at the boy’s five loaves and two fishes knowing it would never be enough to feed the hungry thousands. “Most of us are paralyzed and crippled because we can’t do everything,” Caine said. The problem, she explained, is that we focus on, and even despise, what we don’t have instead of believing in God’s ability to multiply what we do.
I knew I had a decision to make.
We would not choose paralysis. We would not despise whatever our “five loaves and two fishes” might be. We would not allow Satan to overwhelm and harden our hearts to the need of this man.
Before I knew what I was saying, I had already said, “Kids, we are each going to ask God what we should do about this man who needs help. After we buy our chapatti bread, we will each share what we think God is telling us to do. Oh and by the way, if God is telling you to get food, I want you to ask Him what kind of food we should get. God knows this man and what he needs and even what he likes.”
Did I just say that?
I was thinking maybe we could swing by McDonald’s for an object lesson on compassion or something. I hadn’t planned on getting that specific.
“Umm God, I really committed you on that one. Would you please speak to us so that my kids will know how real you are? Thank you and amen.”
God must have chuckled.
We got lost on the way to buy the chapati bread, but as I made a wide U-Turn, I made good on my promise. “Okay guys, what did God tell you?”
My oldest was eager, “God told me we need to get that man some food. God said that man needs something healthy.” There went the McDonald’s option.
“Iced tea,” my middle kiddo said firmly, “We need to get that man iced tea.”
“Okay, then,” I said and we pulled into a Jimmy John’s deli shop and emerged with a healthier meal that included iced tea.
As the car inched toward our thin Santa Clause on the corner, the excitement in our van began to build. “Is he there? Is he there?” my oldest daughter asked. “I think I see him.” She held the bag confidently out the window and said, “We got you some lunch. God bless you.”
His eyes widened and crinkled into a smile. “Wow. Jimmy John’s!” he said surprised and emphatic. “Thank you so much. God bless you.”
My children were lit from within and my oldest said it well. “That was so much fun, Mom. I can’t wait to do that again.”
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
5 Creative Places to Find Prayer Accountability
Do you want to pray more, but are easily distracted? Here are some practical ways to stay focused.
How to Rescue a Day Gone Wrong in Your Marriage
Just because a day doesn't start well, doesn't mean you can't rescue it.
What Women Are Saying
-- Emily P. Freeman, author of Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships4 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles5 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles5 years ago
Relationships9 months ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture1 month ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions