I read an illustration and a devotional (Charles Stanley). As I thought about both of them, I realized that both were tied together. The more I thought about the two the more I could see the relevance to my life and the people that River of Life serves.
This is the illustration. Imagine one person arriving at the airport to find out that the plane left one minute before he arrived. Another person arrives at the airport 59 minutes late. The first one thinks that he is not as bad as the second flier. But when you think about it they both missed the plane. Does it really make a difference who missed it by less? I know for myself that there are many times in my life when I have looked at others and thought that I’m not as bad as they are or I have not made as many bad decisions as they have. What I’m really saying is that I am also bad and that many of my decisions were bad. Does the degree really make a difference?
The devotional was based on Psalm 107:9, which reads “For he satisfied the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Every one of us is a unique creation. We all have specific needs and desires. However, there are several needs that are common to all of us.
We all need to belong. Think of how you have felt when going to a new job or moving to a new location and you have tried to fit in. There is comfort in knowing we are among friends or family. Secondly, we all need to feel a sense of worth. It is important to know that we “matter’ and that we have worth to others. Thirdly, we all need a sense of competence. It is important to know that we can accomplish something.
Now at River of Life we encounter many people that are deficient in one or more of these three areas. This is where my attitude confronted me face to face. As I look at many of our “guests”, I realized that I saw myself as the person who was one minute late and they were the 59 minute ones. The thing is; I don’t think I am the only one with that perception of the homeless and addicts. We all fall short in some way. Does it really matter to what degree? I feel even more challenged to see these individuals in a new light. When I consider the individuals on the street I think in terms of belonging, mattering and competence. I think it is incumbent on “us” the one minute people to seek a solution to this problem that we see growing on the island.
Maybe if we all could see that the ‘plane” left both of us behind, we could see ways to help those less fortunate to feel a sense of belonging and that they do matter to someone. It’s easy to look at those who are living under the burden of bad choices and see their sins that put them in the positions they find themselves. But when you look at the shape we were in, it becomes easier to want to reach down and help those people up from the gutter. We are called to lift them up and clean them up and help them to grasp the second chance we all need. After all, “corpses” cannot effect their own resurrection. Maybe we can be thankful that we are in the one minute class and reach out to those whose bad decisions are worse than ours. I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but I can’t get it out of my mind. Except for the grace of God there go I.
I realize that in this day and age it is easy to blame our problems on our parents or whatever deprived us in our formative years. It seems like no one accepts responsible for their actions and decisions. I was raised by hard working parents who instilled in me a strong work ethic and moral character. Yet, with all that I had I made my share of bad decisions. For whatever reason, I overcame them with the help of others. Many people on the street have burned bridges in their lives and are left with limited choices for help. May you and your family and friends find time for giving thanks and appreciation for what you have. God bless you.
I would like to take a moment and address fundraising. Fundraising is the distasteful part of my job. It is something that I have always disliked. One of the reasons is that I feel I am not really good at it. With that being said, it is necessary. It is necessary if we are to meet the needs of the less fortunate in our community. You have been so generous over the years and I appreciate that. Forty percent of our yearly income comes in November and December. That means that many of the other months we spend more that we take in. Therefore, I need a surplus to start the New Year. I do get nasty notes sometimes about the frequency of letters. We have many donors that give every month. Many give several times a year. The problem is that I don’t know what months someone will donate. If I knew that then I could just send letters to those people during those months. We produce all of our mailings. We have free color printers from Xerox and we stuff and process the mail ourselves. To produce a letter and mail it costs about fourteen cents. Another reason I mail to the entire donor base each time is to keep you informed as to what is going on in the life of the Mission so that you can continue to pray for us. I also pray that something I write may help you or your family. Just because you get a letter does not mean I think you will give. Your prayers are as important to us as your finances. Thank you for your help and understanding.