Day 9: Imagine

You are hungry but there is not a dime left to your name. You have 21 days to pay rent but you don’t have a job. There is no money anywhere. All the wrong choices have been made. All the bad luck has run its course.
Hold up, rewind. You are hungry. What do you do when you’re hungry? Go to the fridge. What do you do when there is nothing in the fridge you want to eat? Go to the pantry. Nothing good there? Restaurants, vending machines, take your pick. Pay with ease, and be done with it.
You’re hungry but there is no fridge. You’re hungry but there are only cockroaches in your pantry. If there isn’t food then there certainly is no money and therefore no restaurants. So you’re hungry, you stay that way.
Imagine the child you brought in to the world staring at you with big, hungry eyes.
And there is no food.

Imagine feeling 100% paralyzed by your bad choices. Imagine that there is no one to help.

You received without paying, now give without being paid.~Jesus, Matthew 10:10

Now imagine being the one to help. Imagine trying to reach out to the working class poor. Imagine yourself stepping out in the knowledge that but for God’s mercy you too would be trapped.

This month I have spent $0.50 on ice water at school (can’t we agree that this is a necessity when it is 99 degrees outside?!) and not a penny more. Just the thought of all the people out there who have reached the end of their rope and truly have nowhere to go…overwhelms me. There is poor, and there is spiritually poor. Hundreds, thousands of people are both. How blessed am I to have everything! I, a spiritual beggar, have richness that all Heaven cannot contain. I, a selfish sinner, have never known hunger. It is hard to even thinking about sinking our hands in with people who are in debt, but the debt I owe to Jesus is more real than any amount of dollars and cents. That’s real, crazy love.

Forgive my apathy, Lord. I spend more time delighting in my material wealth than in my spiritual blessedness.

For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.~Romans 7:22-23

I’m going to end with a prayer excerpt from my journal dated 8/27/13:

I rejoice in You, Lord God, for who You are and for the blessings that you pepper my life with in the form of unique and special people.
I’m thankful for the travelers whose paths You have led across mine here in Little Rock &; North Little Rock. I thank You for bringing the world to me here.
Thank You for feeding me today.
I desire You now more than ever. Good day or bad day…You are all my hope and peace. All the joy that I feel, I know it is from Your Spirit connection within me.
Sweet God, creative God. The God of fulfillment and earthly poverty that leads to Heavenly joy. The God of unexpected mini road trips to Roland, dirt, and Diet Coke.
He blesses me and I rejoice!
When these blessings are withheld, I am going to be happy.

Whoever has the Son of life has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.~1 John 5:12

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It’s All God’s Anyway

Pardon the abrupt transition from airy hypothetical posts filled with wordy generalizations to, well, me.

Three days ago I started a “fast” from buying (I know that to fast traditionally means to abstain from food. Use your imaginations, people.)
Thanks to my ingeniously frugal mother I’m not a huge spender, (OK, so I pack my lunch everyday, never order anything but water, and make it a point to avoid weekend movies because of the price) but I am a rabid control freak. I want to be in control of….it all. A few days ago I noticed a thoughtlessly consumerist tendency in myself: when I get to what I see as a comfortable place financially I start to spend. I spend on me and I buy other people stuff and then I spend more on me. Not huge amounts of money, but the green is flowing faster than it was two weeks ago when I was tight-wadded due to worry. I hate that my spending (giving included) fluctuates depending on how I feel I’m doing financially.

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves…It is God who clothes the wild grass….~Matthew 6:28 and 30a

So I’m not going to spend. Extreme, you say?

Abject poverty is extreme. Not being ABLE to buy things to meet ones’ basic needs is extreme.
My aim with this silly little fast is not to save money; it’s about not having control. The time I would have spent in line, I will spend in prayer. The movies, book sales, dinners or sports games I would have attended will be replaced by conversation and by solitude. I’ll have to get creative. I’ll have to go without the luxuries I usually bestow upon myself with the swipe of a card. And next time I roll up to a couple of ladies sitting outside of the Salvation Army on 2nd street it will just be me. No brownies and baby shoes. I won’t be a giver or benefactor, I’ll just be a face, and hopefully, soon, a friend.

There it is then, written down. I won’t be buying anything but gas this month (not even Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s new and undoubtedly wonderful CD!) My food is well provided for-gosh, I’m not that crazy. But right down to chewing gum and loose-leaf paper, I hand my control of the money that passes through my fingers to God. Sayonara receipts and restaurants.

Distractions minimized, I hope for two things: clarity towards my own wrong perceptions of money, and a better understanding of how to close the gap between the well-meaning rich and the hungry poor.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the good Samaritan reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him? ~Martin Luther King Jr.