We have been praying for the Lord to make us His vessel of bounty. Then one day I learned that good intention is not enough. When you pray to be the vessel of His blessing, you have to live it with all your heart, all your might, all your senses. You cannot just do it when you feel like doing it. It is a duty, not something that you do when you have some spare time, then you do not do when you feel busy.
One evening, after dinner at a restaurant, Hubby and I had an experience that might means nothing to most people, but touched me very deeply.
In Jakarta, you will find a lot of street sellers walking around the street curbs offering you their goods. Some will wait on the street sides and when the traffic light turns red, they will snake around the many vehicles that were waiting for the light to turn greens, offering their merchandise: drinks, tissues, cigarettes, snacks, children's toys, shawls, etc. Some of the sellers are just as young as an eight-year-old boy or girl. You will also see a lot of beggars, some with babies.
I never open my car window to buy anything when I drive alone, because it's been known that some of these sellers or beggars cooperate with bad guys to rob you once you open the car window, but when I'm with Hubby, we usually will buy tissues from children seller. We don't use too much tissues in our home, we are trying to live a greener life and use washable cloth napkins instead, yet we just want to buy something from the children.
Some might say we're making it worse by "supporting" the child labor, but let me tell you, when you see someone who needs help in front of you, and you know that you can do something to help, even in the smallest way, you just do it. You don't tell them to go to some foundation with detailed proposal for donation. You don't preach about banning child labor in third world country. I live in a place where many people make as little as five bucks a day for a family of five. When empty stomach needs food, and children can help by selling tissues after school, I would not dream to judge the parents. I wish I know how to solve the problem, but since I don't, I would just do what's right in front of me to help. Selling tissues on the street is hard, honest work. Who am I to judge?
We never, ever, though, giving money to beggars, not the ones with children - because most of the children are rented for money, or even kidnapped -, and definitely not the ones who looks young and healthy. Sometimes we will give money to beggars who looks too old or sick to work, but on principle, we don't give money to people who beg instead of work. It's our principle.
Let's get back to what happened after dinner. Hubby and Michael had been out of the door before me, I was still in front of the cashier finishing payment for our meals. When I went out the door, a young man carring two baskets filled with "semprong" - crepes like cookies - offered me to buy something of his basket. I was busy putting change back into my wallet, so I just smile and automatically said no and hurried back to the car where Hubby was waiting.
Then I got the surprise and shame of my life. Hubby, still carrying Michael, walked right back, handed the seller some money, and asked. "How much will I get for this amount?" The man's face immediately lighted up, after finishing our transaction, he held my husband's arm and said, "Thank you so much, Sir. I pray that God will bless you with a lot of bounty."
Back in the car, Hubby said, "It's almost nine o'clock, Honey. That man must have been walking around trying to sell the cakes for hours, and the baskets are still full. If I didn't buy something, he will have no money to bring home to his family. He is an honorable man, doing an honest job. He is not begging for money, he is willing to work hard for it, and we should respect that. The money I gave him for the semprong is just peanuts, but look how happy he became. I just pray that to him it is more than just money. I pray that he took it as a sign from the Lord to keep going on and work."
Then and there. God was speaking to ME. Through my husband. I'm not a scrooge, but I was in such a hurry that I did NOT see. I failed to see what Hubby saw: a hardworking man who needed our help. I have been praying to be the vessel of the Lord's bounty, yet when the opportunity present itself for me to do so, I failed to recognize it. Shame, shame.
We are all living a busy lives. Yet, it's not an excuse to be ignorant. I have let my hurrying blinded me from doing the duty that the Lord has assigned to me. In every bounty that the Lord blessed us with, there is a part which He meant to give to other people who need it, and He assigned US to do it for Him. So if we keep everything, or fail to do so, we literally steal from the Lord.
I always complain how ignorant my husband can be. How careless he is. How he cannot find anything, even when the thing he was looking for was right in front of his eyes. Yet I was the one who was ignorant. I was the one who was careless. Failure to find a bottle of shampoo in a drawer full of supplies is one thing. Failure to see a needy man right in front of us, when we have been praying for the Lord to help other people, is definitely another! Failing to help someone who should receive our help, is failing to do so for the Lord.
Thank you, Lord, for the great lesson of generosity. True generosity.
"And the King will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
What you did NOT do for one ot these least ones, you did NOT do for me.' "
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