I love the picture at the right because it is real and not a reenactment. The man took off his own shoes and gave them to someone who had none. This got caught on camera for a tv show that was being aired nearby, and when I saw it the first time on television, it made me cry. The still photo still can move me, and I hope it moves you, too. So often, our unhappiness comes from us not being content with what we have (the Apostle Paul knew this) and from our wanting what we can’t or shouldn’t have. Life is not about newer cars, or bigger tv sets, or newer smart phones, or bigger houses, but about how well you are answering Christ’s call for you. Christ does not ask you to give everything you own to the poor (not a bad idea because then you get to go shopping for newer stuff) because He is more concerned about where your heart is in relation to His vision for you. When you have Christ living in your heart, you are just not as concerned about what restaurant to choose or whether or not you can get same-day shipping for what you just ordered. It’s all about perspective.
We always seem to look at those who have more than we do and want to be like them than we look to those who have less and become grateful for our blessings. There are lots of things that most of you have that are just fading memories for us, like fast-food places, food delivered to your door, supermarkets full of everything and open all night, fire departments, ambulances, the ability to call 911, drug stores with snack foods and clothing if you want it—we have none of that. In fact, we haven’t gone out after dark in twelve years, but your nights are lit up bright as day and you have movie theaters, restaurants, malls, and you can even buy a new car at midnight if you want. We have whatever we have in the house when the sun goes down, and that’s it. Once or twice in the last twelve years, we have gone out when we needed to use our car for an ambulance to get someone to our little bush hospital, but that’s it. We lived with a horrible sink for eleven years till we could finally squeeze in the money to buy a new one, and we are happy and grateful. When we see how families are living in the U.S., we are amazed at the size of the houses and the furniture and gadgets therein. Our little house is almost a slum compared to the ones we see. However, if we compare ours to the majority of those around us—we are living in a palace and feel a little guilty, too. I once asked one of our workers if her floor got wet when it rained and she replied, “We don’t have a floor.” Most homes around here have dirt floors swept clean several times a day but that become mud when it rains. How blessed we are to have concrete floors, and doors we can shut and lock, and security lights outside. We have to buy food every day, but we can! We can’t always get everything we want, sometimes there are no eggs, or no milk, or no sodas, but we can get most everything we need even if we have to wait a day or two. You can see something you want online, buy it with a credit card, and have it delivered the next day. We can see something at Amazon.com (we have no credit cards but Amazon will take the money from our bank account), buy it and have it shipped to my son. His wife, Brenda, will wait till we have several things piled up and then pack and mail them to us. The thing we saw and bought won’t get to us for four to six weeks! Can you imagine having to wait that long? No, you can’t. You live in a world where the microwave is too damn slow, don’t you? Two thirds of the world don’t even have toilets but use squat holes in the floor. Didn’t know that? Welcome to our world. Maybe if you traveled a bit, you would be happier with what you have, but not if you only stay in five-star hotels. Come see us. Come live in our world (we can sleep sixteen and have toilets and hot water) for a bit. Our most faithful and consistent supporters have usually been here more than once and know first hand what life is like here. We are truly blessed to have many supporters who have never been here and some who have never been on a mission trip. Those folks are happy with what they have and know how to maintain that happiness like the man in the photo. He’s not giving away a Rolls-Royce, he’s giving away some shoes he can easily replace, but he IS giving away his own shoes. That’s the message today, don’t give till it hurts, give till it’s gone. Look at what you have as gifts from God and don’t be ungrateful because you don’t have everything you see on tv. There is always someone who has no floor or no shoes. Be grateful and thankful to God for what you have, and don’t worry, be happy.