Black Eyed Peas
Our normal New Year’s menu. Complete with the “old wives’ tale” of leaving a few peas on your plate to insure wealth the following year. Can’t sweep neither. You sweep on New Year’s day, you’ll sweep folks right out of your life. Or at least that is what Grandma used to say.
Here’s the thing. This year is the year of giving. I’ve been told the more you give the more you get in return. But that isn’t my intent. I want to rid myself of offense Ezekiel told about in chapter 18. I want to gain a new heart and a new spirit.
Embrace giving, loving and helping….. those things that God has done for me.
So, Mark, the kids and I signed up to work at the soup kitchen in Little Rock. Giving up our holiday to serve those who live out the reality that poverty and homelessness doesn’t observe holidays.
Before our group of friends and us loaded ourselves up in our church van, we held hands in prayer. We prayed for eyes to be opened, hearts to be touched, and lives to be changed. Soft words spoken. Prayers floated upward. I was about to embark on my first real act of giving myself away.
I am giving away the traditions, those silly old wives’ tales, and time spent in front of the television watching football. Selfish thoughts anchored at the pit of my stomach. Did I really want to give up my day?
Where were my praying hands? Those words I heard and acknowledged with my quiet “Amen.” An offense indeed. Selfish thoughts.
Where the sidewalk meets the pavement, a sign stands. Bold red letters scream silently the reason I was there. God’s little warning that my selfish thoughts will need to be left along the sidewalk.
Stone soup saved a village. Today, this service may save me. The creak of the old door of the 1920 building welcomes me. The hallow sound of the basement kitchen deafens my selfishness.
There a simple lady of elder stands before me. Her face calm and weathered by time. 30 year veteran to serving the needy. Her eyes remind me of Mother Theresa. There’s love behind those eyes.
Without much introduction, I am put to work. Along side of youthful hands my mind wonders…… How many broken hearts and crumbled lives will we serve?
Will this meal cut through to their hearts? Will addictions fade? Will sorrow be cut down? Emotions stirred?
Will the living water pour over their hurting souls? Will they understand that the bread of life we offer isn’t made with yeast and flour?
Will a miracle happen today? Like the water Jesus turned into wine….. will someone today understand His power to be sufficient?
Will the young hearts that prepared this meal understand that Jesus fed multitudes with 2 fish and 5 loaves? But it was more than food He served. Will they understand? They serve His love.
Will I understand that many will enter with physical emptiness and leave content? Will I recognize my spiritual emptiness and my need for content?
I left full. I saw a new side to my kids. My son patiently took charge and worked harder than I could ever imagine. My daughter modeled love and compassion. Mark gained a new friend or two, locals who visit the soup kitchen for a warm meal.
My selfish thoughts melted away and never returned. A wonderful beginning to a year of giving.