Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Least of These

Even at 10 am this late June morning, the air is hot and heavy with moisture. Today’s expected high is 106 degrees. Fortunately, I sit in the park, surrounded by huge, leafy green canopies. The cottonwoods, oak, and sycamores provide some protection and relief from the sun’s rays.

All around me I hear Spring’s mating calls: the cardinals sing, hoping to attract a mate. Cicadas' harsh calls sound from my left, then the answering calls echo to my right. I sit on a bench under the shade of a wooden gazebo, soaking in the calm atmosphere.

My mind drifts. Instead of enjoying the beauty and quiet of Lemon Park in Pratt, Kansas, my mind drifts back a few days. I’m in downtown Wichita, on a Sunday evening in 100 degree heat. Here, too, I’m seeking shade, but for a different reason.

With six gentlemen friends, I seek shade not for myself, but for others. We’re on a quest, seeking the homeless. Surely, on this hot day, they seek relief from the oppressive heat in a shaded spot or grassy, tree-lined park.

My friends and I aren’t disappointed. We find the homeless trying to keep cool in sheltered spots: under the Kellogg overpass, in the shade of a gazebo in Old Town, and in the shadows of the downtown library. We offer our small gifts—a sandwich, a bag of chips, a cookie, a pack of gum, some toiletries, and a bottle of water. They seem such a small gifts. We chat for a few moments with each group. Invariably we are thanked, often with a sincere, “God bless you.”

Then we climb back into our air-conditioned vehicles and search for others who are hot, thirsty, and displaced. The irony of our finding some respite from the heat in an air-conditioned vehicle does not escape me. The 70 or so people appreciate the gifts, but our gesture seems so small, like using a teaspoon to dig the foundation of a house. But we will continue to dig that foundation, providing what we can. One sandwich and one water bottle at a time, we’ll provide small gifts for our brothers. One small gift is better than nothing.

Mark 12:29-31 “The most important [commandment] …is this… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Matthew 25:40b “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did your for me.”


  1. "One small gift is better than nothing." Nothing is a small gift in Jesus' eyes.

    A few days ago, my 23-yr-old daughter checked herself into a crisis center. This girl was on staff at a homeless shelter when she was 19. The next year she went on two mission trips: one to Thailand where she ministered to prostitutes, and one to Africa where she cared for orphans. Over the years, she has continually reached out to others, but neglected to care for herself - never healed her own hurts. Today, in the crisis center, she is giving a "makeover" to a 48-year-old women (whom we met and looks like she is 80!) who is graduating from a recovery program and twenty-three years on meth. Elizabeth's makeover could be considered a small thing, but this woman (Lisa) has cried for every little thing Beth has done for her so far (also giving her some of the flowers we brought for her). Even though you'all are getting back into your air-conditioned vehicles, your gestures are not going unnoticed. God has given you the resources to be the helpers of others. Bless you. :)

    1. Rebecca, you must be very proud of how your daughter chooses to give to others! Unfortunately, I think we sometimes don't offer the small gestures because we think it isn't enough. Yet all those small gestures mean so much, and, taken together, become great gifts, all honored by our God! I'll address this in my next post. Thanks for your encouragement!