I was deciding between paint colors called "Cat's Whiskers" and "Aspic" yesterday morning when I heard it....
"We can't take back custom-mixed paint," the clerk at Sherwin Williams barked into her phone.Silence. Then, "Well, I don't know. I heard Habitat for Humanity takes paint and uses it in the homes they're building around here."
I was instantly excited. Having already learned that Sherwin Williams definitely does NOT offer any kind of 'sorry-you-hate-your-paint-and-it-reminds-you-of-kid-puke' exchange, I too have buckets of paint I can't (won't) ever use. (Unless I decide to get underneath my house and do some painting. And even I don't get that bored.) Anyway, it got my mind racing. Wonder what else is hiding in Freeman House that Habitat could use?
I drove home quickly and paced the house. There was the washing machine my Mom gave me. I have a new one being delivered today, and there's no reason I should let Lowe's haul it off. Someone could use it. Oh! And then there's the sink I bought that I can't stand now. (Really, somedays I have poor taste.) Oh! And over there....
A huge pile is accumulating. But I've noticed that it's not just sinks and paint. It's clothes. And shoes I never wear. And lamps and dishes and....
Wow. I really wish I could take all this stuff to the Christian Service Center here in town. But I refuse. In order for anyone to get any help - or clothes, food, etc. - the person must first trot down to a local church and ask for a voucher. Sure, the churches say it gets people in the doors... gets them in contact with a pastor or deacon. Whatever. The Service Center is nearly busting with Baptist hand-me-downs that people need but no one claims.
The longer I considered my pile, the angrier I got. It made me remember. Remember that when Jesus sent out His disciples, He coached them somewhat like this:
1. Go to the 'lost sheep'.
2. Preach this message: the kingdom of heaven is near.
3. Heal the sick. Raise the dead, etc.
4. FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED, FREELY GIVE.
I wonder if my church's altar Bible is accidentally missing that page. I'm not seeing much giving going on. And I certainly wouldn't characterize it as the "freely" sort of giving, either.
I wish I could say that I'm sorry if this is offending local church friends, but the truth is - I'm not. I'm not a bit sorry. The average American eats nearly 14 POUNDS of bread a year. (Yeah.) I read this past week that if you slept under a roof last night, you're better off than over 90% of people in this world. My heart is breaking. Certainly we as Christians could do more. Certainly Jesus told us to do more.
I don't know where this soap box appeared from today. (I guess that phone call at Sherwin Williams.) Before I hop off this box, however, I leave you with this quote a friend emailed me yesterday. It's from Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw. It reads:
This is the one true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy....
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.... I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no `brief candle' to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.