Prayer. Many people resort to prayer when they feel there is nothing else to do to help them in a tough situation. Many pray regular prayers, even memorize and speak them from rote. Often I think we may pray prayers of habit or obligation or just routine, not really expecting much to come of it. The Bible says we should pray expectantly, and with faith in our generous God.
James 1:5-7 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.
We have been praying all together as a family in the evenings before bed, and this past Friday night, I asked that we pray for opportunities to be kind to the poor, in relation to a verse we had read aloud. (The Bible has a lot to say on being kind to the poor. See this list of related verses: Poor ) Then yesterday, Saturday afternoon a man showed up at our front door. In hindsight, I know this was an answer to that prayer – – why I hadn’t thought of it at the time, I don’t know for sure. Was it a test? If so, I failed miserably. Instead of being kind, I was rather unkind, probing to see if his story rang true; where he was coming from, where he was going and why – – as if it were really any of my business. My “business” should have been to be kind. But I withheld it. Oh, I gave him a measly little cup of tea (which he didn’t drink as it wasn’t really cold enough having been fresh brewed and melting the tad bit of ice I had added.) He asked for a hamburger. Why didn’t I make him one? I am stingy. Sad to admit, but true. I am so used to pinching pennies and trying to stretch a dollar, focused on feeding and providing for my own family that I have become stingy instead of generous. Pride. Am I prideful? (gasp!) I don’t want to be. I am rather disgusted by my pride. I have nothing to be prideful about, yet here I was a stay-at-home mom who hasn’t held a “job” in decades telling this stranger that he is going about it all wrong and instead of traveling on foot taking odd jobs and handouts, he should stay and get a job to save some money for transportation. What audasity! I am truly ashamed, and also shocked at myself. But I want you to see that I admitting these faults. I teach the children that they need to admit their wrongdoing in order for change to take place, so that’s what I am doing. Another thing, my husband. Tired as he was, he gave the stranger the last two apples in the fruit basket (we have more today after a quick side trip to the store) and drove him to the city one and a half hours north of us where he wanted to go on his way north. And, he didn’t badger him with questions. My husband was kind. Yet the man kept saying over to me as well, “thank you for your kindness . . . thank you for helping me” and yet, I felt I wasn’t really open to being very kind. It is sort of a feeling of needing to have a boundary up for protection that if I let it down I would be vulnerable. Perhaps that feeling hearkens from days gone by growing up when there was this taught and understood premise that we shouldn’t talk to strangers and should be suspicious of them. Or perhaps from all the bad news stories over the years that has made me cynical. Perhaps it is mommy instinct that makes me want to resist needy strangers for my kids’ sakes. Yet on this Saturday there was no threat or danger to me or my family, not even a hint, just poor person who I had the opportunity to show kindness to (in answer to my very own prayer). I wish I had made him a hamburger. But I didn’t. I could have been a better role model to my kids. But I wasn’t. I could have shown true Christian kindness. But I failed. I am glad my husband did not fail. He was ready to show kindness. I pray that I will be ready the next time God gives me the opportunity and that my life will be one of generosity, not selfishness or pride. I pray for more opportunities to show kindness. Thanks for reading.