This has been a long, crazy, full week. But, what we did to start the week has had my mind spinning all week. The first thing we did on Monday was to purchase food for the food pantry so we could bring our donation to the Kidz Choir musical this weekend.
In church a few weeks ago, I gave a challenge to our church in reference to bringing food. I challenged them to do three things: be intentional (make a specific trip to the store to get your items rather than just pulling things from the back of the pantry, take your children with you and let them pick out and pay for their items), shop as if you were shopping for your own family, and pray over the food you purchase and the families that will receive the food. I shared this challenge because God had challenged me with those same things. I had no idea how much this would affect me when we actually got to the store.
Even though I had been feeling the conviction of this challenge for weeks, when I got to the store I was still tempted to get the cheapest and easiest things to grab and get on with the day. I really had to force myself to slow down, let the kids lead, and when I did, God broke my heart. I was amazed at the love, care, and excitement with which they were racing through the aisles to find things to give to others. Some things they saw and just wanted to get because they thought it would be yummy and others they really thought through. Without me having to guide them they wanted to get things for spaghetti and tacos because that would be two meals for which we could provide everything but the meat. They each picked out their favorite cereal. We worked hard to get as much healthy food as we could, but we also wanted to spoil them a bit, too. After all, Christmas breakfast for some families may come from the food pantry. We wanted them to have the chance to have something as special as we would. The kids chose a Cinnabon baking kit. We also got some of the small essentials, spices, peanut butter, jelly, etc. We did spend more than I was planning, but as the kids and I were there I couldn't help but think of all the ways we had been blessed, that though it was more than I was planning, it wasn't more than we could afford. It truly was a joy and a delight to choose things and think of the way families may enjoy each item. The joy my kids had in picking things out was so contagious. I am so thankful we did that together.
Of course, it also got me thinking. What price do I put on the love I give to others? Do I draw my own lines and decide what's too much for me to give? What takes too much time? Do I decide when it's just too much or do I turn my life over to God and say, "Use me! Fill me with You and use me until I am empty, then fill me again." Do I love all people, as I encourage my children and others to do, or do I really only love those who are like me or who are easy to love? Do I stretch myself and pour out all I have and all I've been given to serve the God who gave His very life for my sins? What things in my life need to change? What needs to stay the same? How can I be the example my kids need on how to trust God, love Him with all my heart and soul, and giving all I have for the Savior I claim to love.
Oh, Father, stir my heart to love all of Your people in very real, tangible ways. Give me a heart for loving and encouraging others. Give me boldness to declare Your love and Truth to those who do not know You. Draw my children to You and mold them into godly people who love and serve You with their whole lives. Lord, begin working, even now, in the hearts and lives of those who will be receiving the food we purchased. Use this small act of love to reveal Yourself to them. Give our staff a chance to pray for them when they come to pick up their food. Show our church body, and my family, how to genuinely love, respect, and serve those who come to our food pantry.