Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A kingdom perspective

We homeschool.  Have I ever mentioned that? Yes?  Well, today was a typical Tuesday in our house. With school out of the way early in the day we were free to run errands in the afternoon.  And it was on the way home from those errands that something wonderful happened - a small miracle.


In recent weeks it has been my personal and public prayer for God to help me and our family stay mindful of His kingdom...the work He is faithfully doing in our hearts and in our land.  In fact this morning I had spent some precious moments with the Lord, in His presence, reading His word and asking Him again to help me be mindful.  My heart was in tune and my mind was alert.


But as we came to a stop at the red light just outside our gate, I felt the question rise in me again.  One of those questions I face almost daily.  Another homeless person? Everyday?  Always at least one standing outside our post gates...asking, begging for money, for mercy, for help.  It has become easy to grow calloused to them, for they are always there. And who knows if they are really homeless? - or scandals instead.  I have reasoned with myself that if I gave money to every one of them everyday, well, you know...


Today, though, my son didn't see him right away.  I had already noticed the man, unshaven, unkempt, with his sign held out for all to read.  I had already reasoned with my heart and conscience.  But as the light turned green and we rolled on, my little man caught sight of him.  And as a second grader, my boy can now read.  He read the man's position and his plea: "Homeless. Please help."  What came from his mouth was both poignant and pleading. "Mom, we should have given him some money."  I thought for a brief moment.  What should I say? Lord, don't let me sound jaded or closed off.  Help me show tenderness and grace. I responded, "Did you bring any of your money?" "No," he replied. "Next time, if you give him one of your dollars I'll pay you back when we get home." 


Now, to appreciate this it is helpful to understand the child who spoke those words.  He is a saver and a bit of a tightwad - unless it's someone else's money. :-) He can save for weeks on end in order to buy a certain toy he wants.  He's unwavering and doesn't allow temptations to throw him off his savings plan.  Who can blame him? - he works hard for his money.  But today, he was moved with compassion at the sight of a man asking for help.


It would have been easy to have said, "Okay, honey.  Next time that happens, I'll give him a dollar and you can pay me back."  But my heart has been set on looking for God's kingdom work - in the here and now.  "Next time" may be too late.  So I said to my son, "Do you want me to turn around? I have a dollar in my wallet." His reply made my heart smile, "Yes, Mom.  I prayed for wisdom this morning and I think God would want me to do this."  Not wanting to be outdone, I pulled out two dollars - one to match his. 


I'd been praying for eyes to see the kingdom at work, for opportunities where God would have me do His kingdom work.  And just outside the gates of this "kingdom" in which I live, I found an answer - a reply from the King.


We circled back around and exited the gate we'd just entered.  "Hand them to me, Mom, and roll down my window please.  I'll give them to him."  And so he did.  As the man approached the back window, he looked my son straight in the eyes and said, "Thank you.  May you be richly and abundantly blessed, young man." I couldn't have said it better myself.  A sweet conversation followed that teaching moment as we talked together of Solomon asking for wisdom, of passages from James, and of teachings from Jesus about the greater blessing being in the giving, rather than the receiving. 


And once again, the greatest lesson in our homeschool day came not from a textbook, but from Yahweh. :-)