This Christmas season, I’ve felt frustrated more than once that I could not join the masses of other families participating in one of the wonderful charitable organizations promoted all over the web. I would see post after post and picture after picture then tell God that we needed to do the same thing. You can imagine my surprise when God kept saying “No. Not right now.”
But aren’t we as Christians supposed to reach out to the needy?
“Yes,” He’d say, “but needs are everywhere. Look closer at how you can be generous to the needs of those around you.”
In this season of life, we do not have much of monetary value to contribute, but God has blessed us with more than just money. He’s given us talents that are unique to us. He’s bestowed upon us time to serve others.
As I contemplated how God would have me reach out to the needy around me, I couldn’t seem to move past the view from my front window. Nestled in my happy little cul-de-sac are nine neighboring houses, all filled with people who have needs. I know each of their faces as we smile and wave when we check our mail at the same time. But I know so little about most of their hearts. Let’s be real here. My knocking on their door out of the blue and asking them where they stand with Jesus would probably not be all that effective at anything except ensuring they avoid eye contact and run as politely as they can from me from this point forward.
I can, however, use this season to show Jesus to them in a quiet yet powerful way that also allows me to include Dash in the process. In addition to reaching others, I want my son to understand that no matter how much money we have, we can share with what we have.
So that’s exactly why we got to work in the kitchen last week. A few hours and a couple of sugar highs later, we were ready to share some baked goods and a simple Christmas greeting with our neighbors. And that’s exactly what we did as a family that night. We loaded our goodies and cute little boy into his wagon and set out to wish our neighbors a Merry Christmas.
Less than a week later, I’ve been amazed at the response. The neighbors who usually avoid eye contact now initiate conversation with us. Some of the neighbors have even gotten busy in their own kitchens and come delivering Christmas treats to our door. Jesus has been honored, and relationships that were non-existent or superficial now have an opportunity to go deeper.
My heart is blessed to see how God is working so mightily from my family’s humble investment into the lives of those around us.
I pray that if you are in a situation similar to ours, you will be encouraged to not despair if you cannot give a beautifully-wrapped elaborate gift to a stranger in need this Christmas. I believe that God will give all of us that opportunity someday, but what can you do now with your current resources?
Can you sit and chat with a lonely widow? Can you tutor someone who can’t afford to pay for it? What if you babysat for a harried couple in desperate need of a date night? There are so many ways that you can give. Your neighbors and co-workers have their own unique needs that you can help fulfill if you will just pray for the ability to do so.