Over this weekend tragedy struck a family in our church. It happened right at the end of my garage sale—or at least that’s when I saw it.
I was on my way back to the church to return some tables that I had borrowed when I saw smoke billowing across the main artery I was on. I figured it was a house on fire based on the amount of smoke and the number of fire engines in the area.
It didn’t even occur to me that it could be someone I knew.
It was the house of a single mom and three of her children. One of the kids is in my Patch the Pirate youth group—a real go-getter when it comes to getting her friends to come to church!
They suspect that it started with a grill that was left going on a porch. Both our friends and the tenants below (it was a two-family) were able to get out alive, but they were only allowed back in the house once, and even though the bedrooms are mostly intact, they were only able to get a few bags of things out.
So, the church swings in to the rescue—trying to provide housing, clothing, supplies, etc., and my wife and I got to thinking. With all the stuff that we as a church, and as a community, has, how does someone know what to give. I mean, I could even go out and buy stuff for them, but I don’t know what to buy.
Giving in a land of affluence is much different than giving in a land of want.
In the land of affluence, we have people that give cash—either because they don’t know what to give or they’re lazy. We have people that give things that do not fit, or are cast offs.
Personally, I have a problem giving away my cast offs to people in need. Why? Because I want them to think more of me than that I looked around my house, found what I didn’t want, and gave it to them.
I’d rather them get my best—or something that they really want—than give them my castoffs.
Now true, in their predicament they would “take anything.” But the truth is that in the land of affluence, “anything” says that it’s something they don’t want.
It’s like when we asked my kids to give something to the little boy that lived there. One of my kids went and started to grab any toy that he could find—regardless of whether he really wanted it or not. My other child started filtering through it to find things that he really didn’t mind parting with (which turned out to be not much!).
I tend to think like the latter son—I don’t want to give up things that I find useful, and yet I want to be considered like the former son—the one that would give the shirt off his back.
So, I’d like to give what they need—meet the need, get them new if that’s what they’d need. It’s not that I feel like giving my stuff would inconvenience me as much as I’d rather give them what they’d want than to look at it as they got what I didn’t want.
How about you?