Begging for bread; it feels like I have done a lot of this lately. And let’s be honest, NO ONE, likes a beggar. NO ONE likes someone who is seemingly needy. NO ONE likes to be asked for help. And NO ONE likes to ASK for help. By no one I mean mostly me and the rest of the American population.
I remember a couple of weeks ago, reading a Facebook status saying something along the lines of ” some people seem to always need help…” (I’m paraphrasing here). It was written with a negative connotation. Culturally we are taught early on that people who struggle, do so because of their poor choices. We learn that no one who needs help, is truly worth helping. A strong person helps themselves. I remembered the countless times I walked past a homeless man or woman, sneering at their condition, because it was their fault and what they needed to do was stop begging and help themselves. And I thought about the times a friend, a brother, or a sister in Christ was in need and I would say ” I’ll pray for you” while having plenty to give to actually meet their need, yet not helping them at all. My heart was gravely convicted.
It was interesting that no more then a week after reading that status, I got into a car accident and as a result lost my spending money for the month of July. I sat in front of this very computer, cringing at the idea of having to ask for help. ” I know what they are going to think of me…” I thought to myself, thinking about the judgment, the criticism and the lack of support I would surely face. So for a few days, I didn’t ask. I watched the money in my bank account dwindle down, and the reality that soon I’d have no money to even eat, truly frightened me.
I remembered the community of Christians found in Acts 2 described as: ” … selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need…” (vs. 45) My heart burned to belong to this kind of community and after a strong encouragement from a dear friend, I finally worked up the courage to ask. I started by asking a couple of my close seminary friends for help. I also posted my need on my missions trip Facebook event page and eventually to my Go-Fund-Me account page. I understood that unless I asked for and received helped from my brothers and sisters I would not make it.
At ATS this past Fall we learned about “mishpat”( God’s justice); perhaps the greatest concept found in the Old Testament. God desires to establish a community of people, who love him and serve him, and love one another and serve one another (kinda like what that Acts 2 community did). Sounds like something Jesus said, huh? Love, isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. In order to love one another like Christ loves, we must love one another HOW, Christ loves.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” -1 John 3:18
I saw this true love, when a good friend of mine from Nyack College sent me a check in the mail, along with a list of inexpensive meal ideas. I saw this love again, when another friend of mine, whom I’ve met through an ATS/ Nyack friend left a $100 bill in my car. I saw this love when a pastor from Florida, who I met at a church in Downtown Nyack also sent me a check. I saw this love when some of my Nyack and ATS friends invited me over their homes for meals. And within a couple of days my needs were completely met.
I rejoice in God, because He takes care of His children. And I rejoice in God for surrounding me with men and women who truly get what it means to love…
“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” – Psalm 37:5
I can finally say that as a seminary student I finally get this. Maybe, just maybe, the reason why the children of the righteous are never found begging for bread isn’t because they don’t ever face struggles, but because when they do struggle, the community around them gathers around in “mishpat” to ensure that their needs are taken care of.
May I be a woman who lives “mishpat”; who loves “HOW” Christ loves, not by word, but by deed. May the legacy I leave behind be one of generosity and grace to ALL.