Do we see the marginalized around us?
I ponder this challenge from the pulpit after an illustration from the book of Ruth. The way this wealthy landowner named Boaz stops in the middle of a busy day at the “office”, notices the outcast working in his fields. Extends grace to this woman named Ruth. How he changes her life because he pays attention; see her need and responds.
Do I bother to check my fields at the grocery store, the vet’s office, at school – do I notice the needs of the poor in a small city steeped in affluence while I check off the to-do list? Because the needy don’t stand with cardboard signs, lie under a bridge, or walk alongside the road in my small town.
Earlier this week I buy a bag of groceries to help feed struggling families for Thanksgiving but I don’t see their faces, know their names, their shirt size, what makes them cry. Just drop off the bag with the others in the bucket on the front porch of a friend.
And that same day, I stand in the hallway in front of my son’s bathroom listening to Elva, the one who manages the five Hispanic women that clean my home every two weeks. Her dark eyes gleam when she shares how more than one hundred people show up every week for the bible study she oversees at her church.
She explains that this isn’t the norm at her church, how people delve into the bible, find truth like it is buried treasure. Says she loves Jesus so much, wants others to experience what she knows.
Elva starts the cleaning business to help the Hispanic community. Provide income for families that come straight from Mexico and have nothing. Carrying bags of my son’s clothes to her car, she tells me her garage looks like a miniature Wal-Mart. Shelves hold cast-offs from clients like a Salvation Army drop-off.
And when Elva isn’t riding around in the worn out van full of cleaning supplies, she is teaching these women that dust my shelves how to sew and quilt in her home after work. Meets with twenty-five families ESL teachers identify as needy.
Because she doesn’t want to call them and find out what they need like a sales clerk filling an order. Her heart fuels with compassion, to sit beside, look in the eyes, build relationship.
Because when Christ dwells in the heart of a believer, it moves one to action. We freely give from what we receive.
We give mercy because we have known the hand of compassion.
Extend kindness because we have tasted charity.
Grant forgiveness because we know the relief of pardon.
Listen with understanding because we know what it means to be misunderstood.
And I have done this, check the fields in Rwanda, and see the marginalized, extend grace. Compassion hangs like a garment on me for the one who lives what it means to be alone, provide for one’s self in the absence of parents. I have looked in the eyes, seen the pain, heard the cry for help, and wrapped my arms around shoulders, asked God to heal, provide what Ruth gleans.
But I wonder, while I have checked the fields beyond my borders, have I missed the marginalized in my own community because I am too busy to notice? Lord, let me see as Boaz saw, respond like Elva when she checks her fields.
How do you find those in need in your commuity?
Joining Ann today to give thanks:
- Candlelight and the smell of cold.
- Warm blankets.
- For Elva and the way she lives compassion.
- Silly songs when the day is done from a boy with a pure heart.
- Friends that make the countenance of my children glow.
- The way God helps us see how He orchestrates time, plans our days when we think there are no plans.
- The mother-in-law, who says yes, gives me the gift of travel with my husband.
- Medicine that makes a dogs eye better, and him run happy.
- For honest friends without expectation, give grace because they love.