I walked into the church that day not feeling like helping anyone but myself.
I was exhausted from working all weekend and being up with my grieving daughter who had just lost her first pet. Not only was I beat, but my head throbbed with the pain of a sinus infection, and to top it all off, I had something wrong with my eye that made wearing my contacts unbearable. So, I had to plop on my old glasses that have been hopelessly mangled by my toddler and are held together with craft wire to keep the lenses from popping out.
Yeah, it was a Monday with a capital “M.”
God, I prayed, I have nothing to give anyone today. Please let me have a quiet day. I just need a break.
God thought I needed a lesson instead.
From the moment I walked in the door, my phone rang off the hook, mostly with people coming to the church with desperate financial needs. As soon as I sat down with one person, the phone would ring again with another need.
You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought. Is this supposed to be funny?
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until I sat down with a guy I’ll call Bob. Bob had nothing. No home. No car. No job. No family to fall back on. He found himself facing an uphill battle trying to rebuild his life from scratch.
“I’m down to my last 52 cents,” he told me. “And I’m just running out of options. I have asthma and I don’t even know how I’m going to get my next inhaler.”
There wasn’t really much I could do for him, but I spent a good couple of hours trying to figure something out.
While running around the church talking to people who might be able to help Bob, I ran into a lady we’ll call Judy. Judy and her family were about to be evicted from her apartment, and she had been all over the city looking for help. Understandably frustrated, she went off on me, and I just let her go, knowing the only thing I had to offer this lady was the chance to vent. She wasn’t really mad at me. She was just mad at her situation.
Now, here’s where it gets cool. Bob was sitting in the room with me when Judy was letting me have it. At the end of the whole thing, she went out to the lobby to make a phone call. That’s when Bob walked up to me, gave me his last two quarters and said, “Give this to her. She needs it more than I do.”
I caught up to Judy, explained the situation to her and gave her the quarters. You would have thought I’d handed her a gold brick. It wasn’t the amount, of course. It was the gesture.
It reminded me of a time when Jesus watched a widow slip her meager savings into the offering while the rich and the proud made a big show of their gifts. Jesus said she gave more than the others because she gave out of her poverty. What little she had belonged to God.
I remembered what I’d told God at the beginning of the day. I have nothing to give anyone. Bob had taught me otherwise. No matter how spent, exhausted or poor I felt I was, there would always be something more I could give to others. A kind word. A listening ear. The change in my pocket.
I guess a God who gives up His own Son kind of sets a new standard for generosity. So, the next time I’m feeling too wiped out to care about anyone other than myself, I hope I’ll think of Bob and his priceless gift and let it remind me to dig a little deeper until I find something of value to offer the people God sends my way.