It was 15 minutes before we closed on Friday, and a family of three walked by and then turned around and came in. We had just run out of coffee but we had cookies and water to offer them. They asked for a pot to cook with, but we didn’t have one left. Almost everything they asked for we couldn’t provide, although they did get a pair of pants for their 3 year old son. The mother started to tell her husband about her day at work as they sat down with a look of relief on their faces – I think they travelled far to get here. She works full time at Tim Horton’s while the dad stays home with their son. She was exhausted today because it was her day to clean the bathrooms and someone had decided to wipe their feces all over the walls in the woman’s washroom. She didn’t seem to be complaining about it. It sounded like a regular occurrence. Dad said his day went well because they went to the park, and now promised their little boy a treat from the dollar store next to the mission. He wanted a slushy, so they counted their change while they were sitting to see that they had enough for 2 so they could all share. The little boy was excited to hold the money.
It was time to close so they got up and gave me the pants so I could put them in a bag for them. I apologized again for not having the items they needed, but told them to come back whenever they can and ask again. As they went to leave the dad put some pennies in the donation jar. His son was upset because he wanted to give to the jar also, so his dad put the jar in front of him and he put all their change inside. I thanked them but also told them it wasn’t necessary to leave anything, reminding them the pants were free. The mother just smiled and they all walked out. I watched as they passed the dollar store with no complaints from their little boy who gave away his treat money. He wouldn’t get his slushy today.
I was immediately convicted by what just happened in front of me. A family whose extra $3 was not easily earned, but was easily given away as a blessing even though we did not have what they asked for and really needed. They gave anyway. When I give to my church do I base it on what I get back from it? Programs, childcare, a nice place to sit or recognition? I want to be like that family who gave because they wanted to say thanks, even though what they thought they needed that day wasn’t given to them. They were grateful for the blessing they did receive in a space to relax for a few minutes, a cookie and some water. God gives me the place I need to relax in his presence, wherever I am, and all the water and nourishment I need In His word. So why does it sometimes seem so hard to drop something beyond our pennies in the plate? Especially when we aren’t getting what we think we should from our church community. Isn’t God’s kingdom worth our slushy money too?