In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 29, 2014

small things with great love

In Which I Am of Service, with Groceries

At work today, I discussed mission with several people. More specifically, the mission of our church, and how the church allocates mission funds. Several weeks ago, the church council member overseeing the mission budget instructed me to find out more about two areas of mission and outreach, if I could. (Especially since I went to a mission conference last week.) Both areas are wonderful causes and outreaches, and I tried to find out what I could.

Yes, I now have some further information. The New Wilmington Mission Conference is a fantastic place to start, if a church wants more information about outreaches. However, I couldn’t help but think about our own backyard, our own township. There are people who are hungry, families in financial difficulty, and unemployed heads of households right in the town where the church is located, as well as the larger community. I spoke to these friends about boosting our support for the local food pantry, and my suggestion was favorably received. I’ll repeat the suggestion next week, at the church council meeting.

I left work later in the afternoon. After doing several errands and seeing a few friends, I stopped by a grocery store. On the south side of town, where I don’t usually shop any longer. I saw a middle-aged man with dreadlocks and a lovely smile sitting outside the store enclosure, on several of those plastic milk crates. I smiled at him as I came up. I walked right to him, instead of passing him by, without even making eye contact.

The whisper of a feeling inside me suddenly came out. My mouth opened, and I asked him, “Would you like something? I don’t have too much to spare, but is there anything I could get for you?” He seemed a bit surprised, but came right back with, “Yes. Yes, there is. I would like a can of tuna, please.” Another friend of his was standing at his side. She asked him what he was planning to do with the tuna. He thought a moment, and then frowned. “Hmm. I’m out of mayonnaise now. But at least I have bread. I can eat that with the tuna.” I smiled again, and said I’d see what prices were, inside.

Lo and behold, tuna was on sale. Brand-name, too! And even the mayonnaise was on sale. I got a couple of bananas, as well. That was besides the milk, bananas, soup (on sale!) and potato salad I got for myself.

Outside, I gave the lovely man the grocery bag I had packed for him. He thanked me with a grateful hug, and blessed me. I wished him a blessed night and good sleep, as well. It wasn’t until I had arrived home from the store that I realized what this was. This was being kind. Being of service. Offering groceries to a man I knew—even though I’m just a little bit acquainted with him. He was so appreciative.

That made this whole mission outreach thing come to mind, too. I may not be super-wealthy, but I do have a little extra. God, thanks for urging me to get the few groceries for this man. I earnestly pray for him, and for all of those who love and care for him. And, thanks for the wonderful idea to get him groceries, too.

@chaplaineliza

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Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 22, 2014

silhouette crucifix and stars

Kindness, Pointed Inward. Service, Pointed Out.

I spent the first half of the day in Pennsylvania, at the mission conference I’ve attended for a number of years. While there (even for so short a time), I had a number of significant experiences, conversations, and “divine appointments.” However, one of the most significant parts of today happened at one of the sessions. The first speaker of the morning (Russell Smith) spoke on several things this morning, but one piece of his session impressed itself upon my heart with particular depth.

Russ used two Scripture references to illustrate this point. His first (which he will expand tomorrow—when I won’t be there . . . <sob!>) was from Psalm 139. Each of us is created an individual. God made each of us, and designed us while we were inside of our mother’s bodies. God knew every facet of each one of us. And, God created each of us the way we are for a reason. (That’s the A-part of what Russ said.) The B-part, the second Scripture verse Russ referred to, was Ephesians 2:10. Each of us—each individual—is God’s masterpiece. We will not become a masterpiece at some future point in time, but God created each of us as a masterpiece already, in Christ Jesus. God designed each individual for God’s purposes, and God created good works for us to do—so each of us has a job (or work, or things to do), prepared for us beforehand.

Yes, I knew all this already. Ephesians 2:10 is and has been so precious to me! But have you ever known something already, even known it by heart, or from the time you were very small, or have been through it a hundred times before . . . and all of a sudden, it’s presented to you once again. Strangely enough, this time, the same-old, same-old words come across in a profound way.

That’s what happened to me. These words knocked my socks off. Moreover, I had the distinct feeling these words, this teaching, was for me. Not for anyone else, today. I can clutch it tight to my chest, like a small child holds a beloved, treasured stuffed animal in its arms.

Later in the morning, I had the unexpected opportunity to turn outward. To be of service. To listen to a grandparent tell about their grandchild who is seriously ill. A continuing difficulty. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. What an awesome thing that I was there, to listen, with my less-anxious presence. I could tell this grandparent was concerned about the grandchild, so far away. And—I have been trained for just such an eventuality.

This second happening was also from God, intended for someone else. God provided a sympathetic ear and an understanding heart. (At least, I hope I was sympathetic and understanding!)

I thank God for new opportunities to serve. To be kind. And especially, for when people are kind to me.

@chaplaineliza

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