My love for reading is something I’m thankful has been passed down to my sons. I often find myself making quick runs to the public library on their behalf to pick up the next book they want to read. Since school resumed, one of my boys has become fascinated by the John Grisham juvenile fiction series Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer. So today– for the third time in two weeks — I headed back to the library to drop off and pick up books in the series.
These stops are always quick and mindless. I pull right up to the front door, drop the old book in the bin, then run to the circulation desk where the clerk already has the next book pulled and waiting. 5 minutes max. Today, God apparently had a message He wanted me to receive that would require a little more mindfulness. At the book drop-off bin sat the small package in the picture below. It left me both blessed and broken.
In the small town where I live, homelessness is not a huge problem but it is still a pressing issue. Let’s be honest, even one homeless person on the streets is too many. None of us would want to imagine our family in that situation. Finding this little package of goodness sitting in the corner was a firm nudge in my spirit to wake up from the apathy of blessing. I have to admit, I take the blessings of God for granted. There is a lot of talk in the news about certain races living in privilege, but truthfully many of us experience daily privileges. Those renewed blessings given each day — like a hot meal, a comfy bed, and a home to retreat to at the end of the day — seem trivial. But these are all blessings someone is in desperate need of.
It made me think of another small town where a group of people had come to be fed by God’s Bread of Life. In Luke 9, there were over 5,000 men (plus additional women and children) who had come to hear Jesus. When the day ended the disciples said “Dismiss the crowd so they can go to the farms or villages around here and get a room for the night and a bite to eat.” The problem was, this was not possible. I wonder how many people I have dismissed without considering their situation. Thankfully when I’m blinded to the circumstances of others, Jesus is not. In Luke 9:13 He replies to His disciples, “You feed them.”
You know how the story ends. A little boy selflessly gave up his 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. It was blessed and broken. Jesus took his little and multiplied it to feed the multitudes. It’s the same process He wants to do in each of our lives.
My family routinely prays over every meal. But that’s part of the problem, it’s a routine prayer. It’s prayer not from the heart, but from Christian training. I compare those dining room prayers to the ones when I am truly thankful, devoid of the feeling of privilege and humbled that God would see fit to show up to meet my needs. You know the kind of prayers I’m talking about. The prayer that comes after God supernaturally pays a bill you didn’t have the money to even think of paying last week. Or the prayer which follows after an unexpected door of opportunity opens up for you. It’s the, “Lord, I don’t deserve this but THANK YOU for thinking of me!” prayer. It’s the prayer of a heart blessed and broken. It’s the prayer of a tender and responsive heart.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26
I don’t know the details of the package left behind. I didn’t disturb it, but when I returned my books in the bin I stood right beside it. It was impossible not to look inside the clear, cellophane wrapping. The bread looked fresh and the Styrofoam container seemed to contain soup or some other warm substance. I knew it was warm because the bag it was in had the beginning of condensation forming. This meal wasn’t someone’s after thought. It was intentional. It was packaged to withstand whatever time needed for its intended recipient to return.
God is so much like this beautiful giver. He daily sets before us the fresh bread of His Word, hot with the intensity of His love. He is forever showing us new ways to receive and digest these packages of goodness in the form of devotions and bible study, gifts left on purpose because He is concerned about our wellbeing.
I pray this package finds it’s Beloved. I pray she breaks the bread and chews heartily upon it. I pray she takes the time to consume every drop of nutrients. I pray her hunger will be filled and her thirst will be quieted. May her soul be feed as well as her body. And when she has finished her meal, I pray she looks up to God with a renewed understanding that He sees and He cares.
How is God speaking to you today? Will you be responsive to His promptings or will the rush of today drown out the still, small voice of His spirit? Lord help us each to receive our assignments this day with a tender and responsive heart.