"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." James 1:22-25
The kids and I read James together a week or so ago, and I've been musing on these verses ever since. Specifically, I was thinking about the actual acts of being a doer of the word, and trying to reconcile how that can be done where there are no finances available for the doing. Because I'll tell you, I've found myself, over the past several months, really feeling filled with compassion for the needy. I'll drive around town and see a newly foreclosed upon house- you know, the ones with all the papers plastered to the door, and it looks as if the home was quickly abandoned- and my heart will break for whoever was living there. I'll see a line of people at one of the many bus stops I pass, and I wonder if they ride the bus as a "green" thing or if they are simply too poor to own a vehicle, and my heart goes out to them. Or I'll see the crowd of people walking into the dollar store and I'll wonder what is taking them there today. Are they looking for a good bargain, or are they there because they have to be, and they're hoping to find some halfway decent canned goods with which to feed their family.
I tell you, my heart is ready to just pour out into our community. I read about the food pantries and homeless shelters in the area, and I want to do something tangible to help. I want to dedicate a portion of my garden next year to growing for a food pantry. I go through my kids clothes and see so much wear left in them, and I wonder who I can bless with them, who really needs them. I see that mom at the grocery store with just a few items in her cart, staring at her list and figuring with a calculator, and I know exactly what she is doing. She's got just a few dollars in her pocket, and she's desperately trying to figure out how to stretch it to feed her family for just a few more days. I know, I've been there, more than I care to think about. And my heart instantly goes out to her, and more than anything, I want to reach into my own pocket and slip her that $20 dollar bill that I'm supposed to use to figure out my family's week worth of milk and eggs...
My heart is so tender right now to the need around me, and I can't even begin to do anything about it, because we're fighting tooth and nail for our own family's needs at the moment. But, oh my gosh, there are so many people in need, and all I can do about is pray about it. To be honest, I find that so discouraging on my part. Because I know what it's like to be facing a mountain of bills and have someone know about that and say "we'll be praying for you." On the one hand, I do know that the prayer of a fervent man availeth much, and I know those are not wasted prayers.
"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." James 5:16
But what I really want is for that person to say "I know a person who wants this work done on their house, could I have them call Andy to do it?" And when I think of those people at the homeless shelter who are being told that funding is short, and they might not be able to stay there much longer, I want to do so much more than just pray for those people.
It's a little frustrating, to say the least. But you know, when I think about all this, I think that the Holy Spirit has clearly been at work on me, because I clearly recall a blog post or two where I did ask that He would open our eyes to the need around us. And because I know that God is such a good God, I know He didn't have my eyes and my heart opened for no reason. Right now it may very well be so that I could pray... But I have to think that this softened, weeping heart is there so that I can also DO. And along with that, God knows that we are unable to do right now, and He will make a way where there seems to be no way. I love connecting thoughts like that! There WILL be a day when we will be able to do so much more than pray for those who are in need around us. That day will come, and then we can take the heart of Jesus to those who need it, and THAT is something that I'm truly excited about.