I remember the day I discovered the Lord’s sense of humor.
Heading up a Food Pantry
In my early twenties I joined a new church. The Holy Spirit had begun convicting me to help the poor, so I went to see my new minister. Turns out he wanted to start a church food pantry. “Great!” I said. “How can I help?” “Well,” replied the pastor, “We need someone to run it.”
In stunned disbelief, I fled out of his office. I couldn’t head up a ministry! I was still a college student. I’d just become a Christian, four years before—what adult would take directions from me?
But after calming down, I eventually said yes.
The older women who volunteered at the food pantry made my life very easy. They stocked the shelves and handed out the food to the people who came. Meanwhile I set the volunteer schedule and went to area ministry meetings. I also drew up guidelines about how much food to hand out, but I really hope my volunteers ignored me. Any woman feeding a family would estimate other people’s needs far better than I could, as a single 23 year old college student.
I didn’t know much; I also didn’t minister to anyone directly. But that didn’t stop me from getting an inflated opinion of myself. After all, I was heading up a ministry to the poor.
It’s a wonder I didn’t print up business cards.
Smug and puffed up, I badly needed an attitude adjustment—and I got one. I do believe God smiled as He planned to perfect way to prick my inflated ego.
The Mysterious Grocery Caper
Every week, I took a bus to the grocery store and bought food for all my meals. This particular day, I remember finding a nice roast to cook; I dearly loved roast beef for dinner. I got all the fixings to go with it and walked out to the bus stop. But just before I reached the bench, one of my brown paper bags began to rip.
So naturally, I set all my groceries down and went back into the store to get another bag.
While I was gone, “The poor helped themselves.”
It was as if the Holy Spirit asked grinning, “Do you really love the poor?” and I had to laugh. Nope—I didn’t love the poor at all, because my ministry cost me absolutely nothing. I’d never personally sacrificed even one bite of my breakfast to feed a hungry child.
True acts of compassion will usually cost us something.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is great at providing “reality checks.” My ego shrank back to its normal size and I returned to the grocery store, convinced I’d experienced my Lord’s sense of humor.
I had enough money to buy a second round of groceries, but I’m afraid roast beef was “off the menu,” at least for that week.
Knowing I’d been divinely “set up” helped me release my lost groceries with good grace. Maybe the people who took my groceries desperately needed food and maybe they didn’t—but I hope they enjoyed some delicious meals.
All images are from Pixabay.com.