I was riding in the backseat of the car with my sister driving and my husband sitting in the front, we came up an exit ramp outside of Denver and were waiting for a light to turn green. Up ahead, I saw a man with a sign begging for money or food. I was moved... it was a very cold afternoon and the first thought that came to my mind was that this poor guy really must need help. So I started looking around the car and remembered a cereal bar that I had placed inside of my purse earlier in the week to eat but had neglected to enjoy it. I pulled it out and told my sister to slow down when we came up to the man because I was going to give him a cereal bar. "Your joking, right?" my sister replied. As we neared the man, I felt my heart pounding. I rolled down my window and my sister slowed. "I am sorry, but I don't have anything else but this cereal bar", I told him. As his cold hand reached out and touched mine as we exchanged the cereal bar, he thanked me and said "God bless you." It was one of those moments where you experience God and know that he was a part of it.
Now really? A moment over a cereal bar? Get real! I hear it in my head even now. But there is this thing that happens when God is present that is hard to explain. And I can tell you that in that moment, God was present. Mercy is something that I have been studying and reflecting on for a few weeks now, but it wasn't until last week's study from Beth Moore's James: Mercy Triumphs where it really stuck in my head. She talked about how it isn't our job to fix all of the world's hurts (and as a woman, boy would I just love to get in there and fix it all!)... it is about letting God bring people into our lives, paying attention and helping them however we can, even if it is just with a friendly hello. The book of James calls us to action.
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17)
When it comes to my faith, what good is it? Does it turn a blind eye to those who are in need? Does it walk past someone who is in need of a friendly smile or hello? Does it pretend not to see the person on the street corner begging for money? Does it pretend to not hear the cries of the neighbor down the street? What good is my faith? I am challenged by this question, and I hope that as I continue on my journey, that I can look back and say that my faith was strong because I lived it out every day.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we out to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:16-18)
Today, my daily devotional brought to mind the story of a little boy who was asked to help save his sister's life by donating blood for her. After a brief pause, he agreed. When the brother and sister were prepped, they were wheeled into the operating room As they neared the door, the little boy asks "How long will it take for me to die?" The doctor was astonished that this boy thought that by giving blood to his sister to help her live, that he thought he would die. That is how God calls us to live.