Our church facility sits on one of Houston’s busiest streets, just a block from a major exit off the I-610 loop. We’ve looked for ways to take advantage of our location and frontage to develop signage that will help attract people to our church for worship and Bible study, our early learning center, church events and other ministries. In this busy inner city area, with a population that is economically, socially, racially and culturally as diverse as any place in Texas, and perhaps the whole country, attracting people to worship and Bible study is one thing, attracting a steady stream of needy people is another.
One of the “other duties as assigned” that is part of my job description is to greet those who come to the door with their needs, discern the validity of their story, and provide what limited assistance we have available to help. At times, the needs are so great that it seems the small amount of resources we have available to help will only be a drop in the bucket. At other times, the gratitude on the faces and in the voices of those to whom we can say “yes” is overwhelming. Sometimes, I smile inwardly at the creativity with which some people seem to be gifted as they tell their “story” in order to gain enough sympathy to pick up a hand out. I’ve heard some really wild reasons why it would be better for me to just hand out some cash rather than order a bus ticket over the internet, or follow someone to the gas station and buy half a tank of gas for them, or call the local motel and pay for a room. There are times when I leave the situation in God’s hands, and give assistance without knowing whether the need is legitimate.
On occasion, I meet someone that God uses to remind me how blessed I am. Today was one of those days. Within a span of about 15 minutes, we had two people who came to the door in dire straits, with needs so great, and circumstances so desperate, that I felt overwhelmed. Against their great need, their request for our help was quite small, yet their gratitude for the help was so heartfelt, being able to assist was a privilege.
Today, once again, I was reminded that I am blessed. Very blessed. Abundantly blessed. A week ago, I was complaining about a high electric bill. But I have a roof over my head, and the lights still come on when I flip the switch. I had to give up my health insurance from my previous job, which was relatively inexpensive and which provided maximum benefits, in exchange for a group policy almost twice as costly, because I have a pre-existing condition which limits my choices. But I still have health insurance, which, other than a few prescriptions and a couple of office visits, was hardly touched during the past two years. That’s a blessing, too.
Today, I met two people whose needs were so overwhelming, that I felt guilty even thinking about praying to God for anything related to me or my needs. I could not pray for myself after hearing two stories, and offering prayer on behalf of someone else. I would have felt selfish doing that.
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT.
Yes, it does.
Count your blessings. Today, I am counting mine.