Tuesday, March 04, 2008

As things might appear...

Sometimes God uses strange things to tenderize me...

I think quite often about Matthew 9:36; it says, But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd (KJV - emphasis mine).

I want to tell you a story...at first it will seem like I am judging someone, and perhaps I was. I don't feel like I was; I feel like I was simply being observant.

I was in a neighborhood store called Roseville Grocery. I stopped to get some gas. As I pulled up a man was walking over from the license office, which is beside that store. I noticed he had a little girl with him; she might have been 5. They got inside the store before I did. The man pulled lots and lots and lots of change out of his pocket. The little girl had a dollar bill in her hand. It didn't take long to determine what was going on; the man was broke and needed to renew his driver's license. He'd gathered his change to do just that; rather than going to the bank, he asked the store clerk if they could use the change because he'd like bills. So, they began to painstakingly count change as I waited a bit impatiently for my turn. (All I wanted was to pay for my apple juice and gas and move on; I had places to be.)

I noticed the man's clothes; work clothes. The shirt had a trite southern phrase and a Confederate flag. He had a matching flag and trite saying tattooed on his inner, right forearm. I noticed the little girl and thought, "Wow, she's cute. That's a home haircut." The little girl was patiently holding her dollar. I think her dad had told her that he might need it if he didn't have enough change. She pensively offered it to him several times. He patiently, tenderly said, "Wait honey" or "Just a minute, baby..." She had stains on her shirt. Her shoes were too big.

The little girl had beautiful eyes. She looked at me several times. Of course, I smiled and winked. I was a bit worried that she would have to give up her little dollar and was wondering if it would be okay to give her one; I realized I had NO CASH. Wow, I felt bad, but I almost felt relieved because there was no possibility to become involved if I had no way to help. Then I felt guilty that I was in a rush. Then I felt powerless again, except this time I was said because I realized that I WANTED to become involved.

I've been known to complain. I noticed this little girl and her dad. Obviously they were poor. I began to imagine scenarios. Did they drink it away? Did they waste it on dumb stuff? Were they the "working poor" that I know so intimately from my own experience? I don't know.

The change counted, the dad had a nickel extra and gave it to the little girl to bring her total to $1.05. I stepped aside and chose to wait a little longer. I wanted to watch the rest of this scene unfold. Would she pick chocolate? Gummi worms? Chewing gum? None of that; she chose a $.65 package of cheese and crackers -- you know the type with the little, flat red stick that you use to spread the cheese. She paid and the total was $.69. She looked at me and this time she smiled back.

I wanted to cry.

She was happy!

Here I am, in touch with the God of the universe and I wanted to rush through my day. This little girl was happy with cheese and crackers. I felt shame for me and joy for her.

I began to think about a lot of things in life. How many people are struggling every day to pay for license renewals and buy cheese and crackers for their precious little children? How many people wear work clothes everywhere they go because that's all they have? How many people are struggling in general? Many, I know, make bad decisions. Many suffer under the hardship of foolish parents. Many are socially decent people simply struggling to live in a tough world. Many young people are holding their little valuables (sense of decency, self-esteem, etc.) wondering if their parents will require that they give what they have. How many people could use a heart of compassion and all the receive is a look of judgment?

When Jesus looked on the world, it was with a heart of compassion. Tim, not so often.

Lord, change me! Give me the heart of Jesus that I might see the world through Your eyes and discern it through Your heart. Help me to, not only UNDERSTAND my world, but to be moved with compassion when I see what's going on. Help me point people to the Good Shepherd.

This little writing might not make sense to you, but it does to me. What a great way to get the bulk of my day started; just watching a family work through a little of life awakened my senses to the compassionate heart of God. I stopped thinking about my wife's broken down car, my cramped schedule, my feelings of insufficiency, all the things I am running behind in...I began to talk with God, hear from God and a parade of faces came into my mind and I sensed God saying to me..."Tim, be moved with compassion today." I was. Thank God what He does in me.

What might be different in our lives if we are moved with compassion more often?

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