It was so hot that day. Well over ninety degrees. The church had no air conditioning. I noticed you from the kitchen where I was preparing the meals to be passed out to the neighborhood children that came in for our VBS (Vacation Bible School). Each night this week, different small groups would prepare & serve a meal. That night happened to be my turn. All day I had prayed for VBS & the meal that would be served. I prayed for a break in the heat. I prayed for opportunity. To do what? I am not sure. But opportunity to do something that mattered. Something significant.
You had brought your own four children & a few from your neighborhood. You all had walked in the heat. You took care of all the kids making certain that they all behaved, used their manners, ate their meal & cleaned up the table. They then went on to participate with the other kids, leaving you to sit alone on the bench in the fellowship hall.
I asked you if you would like for me to box up some of the dinners to take home. You quickly said, “Yes, that would be helpful. Anything would help.”
Shortly after, we noticed boxes of bread from Panera Bread that had been donated.
I walked across the fellowship hall again to ask you if you would like some bread and/or bagels. Again, you replied, “Anything would be helpful.” When I gave you some choices, asking you what the children would enjoy, you replied sheepishly, “They will eat what is put in front of them. It is better than not having anything at all.”
I returned to the kitchen & wrapped up some breads & a variety of bagels & brought them over to you. You graciously took them & I returned to the kitchen to finish cleaning up.
As I went to leave for the night, you were still sitting on the bench. I approached you, hand extended & introduced myself & we shook hands. Your eyes filled with tears as you told me that it had been a long time since anyone had extended a hand to you. I stopped & we chatted for a bit.
Weary mom, you shared that you are a single mom. You are raising four children on your own. Your parents are older & you also take care of them. You shared that life has been lonely for you. I could see that you were worn & tired & feeling down. We continued sharing how exhausting children can be at times & yet you stated that you would not change a thing.
Lord, how can our eyes be closed to the captives that weep with no one seeing them? How do we drive to church & not realize that every single door represents a story? A story of a life. A life that has struggles & pain & no one notices.
And then you said something that pierced me. I will never forget. Not ever.
“I haven’t smiled in a long time. But you made me smile tonight. Thank you.”
My eyes filled with tears as you continued….
“I haven’t been to church in a long time either. Maybe I should try coming. What time is church here?”
I told you – 10:30.
You asked, “Do I need to be dressed up to come?”.
Never have I been so happy to honestly reply….
“See what I am wearing now? This is what I wore on Sunday,” I shared as I motioned to my clothes.
I don’t know many that I would have admitted that to so freely but somehow I was pleased as punch to tell you. Same clothes.
And you replied, “Amen, sister! Now that I can do. Wear the same clothes on Sunday & then again a few days later. This may be the church for me!”
We talked a few minutes more. I left to drive home.
Sobered & tears rolling. The entire ride home.
“And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.” (Matthew 10:42 NLT)
Lord, what about chicken nuggets, some tater tots, carrot sticks & watermelon?
Weary Mom, never has a meal seemed so sacred. Weary Mom, thank you for reminding me this week that there truly is great reward & blessing in the small things. For surely, it was I that received that night.
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