Daily Devotional for September 29, 2022

One of the most life changing ministries our church does is something most of the members never see.  We help people with bills and food when they fall through the cracks in the social safety network.  These are the people who many times, live on the edge from one paycheck to the next, scraping to get by.  What for most of us would be considered nothing more than an inconvenient bump in the road of life can have devastating consequences for those who live on the margins.  This is where we make a difference.
Yesterday afternoon, Ellie walked into my office with a referral letter from the Temple Help Center and an electric bill.  After reviewing the documents, I walked to the entryway of Dennis Hall and found an elderly woman sitting in a chair.
Sitting in another chair was Becky.  She had just come from our yoga class and was waiting for Carl to pick her up.
I said hi to Becky and then introduced myself to the woman who had come to our church for assistance.  Her appearance was rough, disheveled, and fearful.  As we visited about her need for financial help, she told me what had been happening in her life and answered all my questions.  Sadly, she was at her whit’s end and was truly desperate.
After I determined her need was legitimate, Melissa wrote the check.  I wish I could accurately describe this woman’s transformation when she realized our church was going to help.  She went from someone with little to no hope, to someone who knew she was not alone and that our church cared.
Now don’t get me wrong, she still looked rough.  But now, instead of being a sad rough, she was a happy rough.  I’ll take a happy rough any day of the week.
While this was going on another woman walked into Dennis Hall needing assistance.  She too had a referral slip from the Temple Help Center, which meant she had been properly vetted and her need was legitimate.  She told me about her life and answered all my questions as to how she had gotten into this predicament.  It didn’t take long to understand this woman would be considered special needs and was somewhere on the spectrum.
To make matters worse, she didn’t truly understand her bill or what a past due notice meant.  It was beyond her limited capacity.  All she knew for sure was she needed help, she was desperate, and the Temple Help Center had sent her to us.  She was very defensive until I got on the phone with her electric provider for a more accurate explanation.  When I explained I wanted the phone call and the contents of the conversation annotated in her file, she understood we really were trying to help.  To put it in Biblical terms, “Her countenance changed.”  
Ellie wrote down all the information the representative from the electric carrier was explaining, while Melissa wrote the check.  Then Melissa said to the woman, “Let’s make sure we write your account number on the check.”  A wave of panic washed over the woman’s face, and she said, “I don’t write too good.”
As Ellie read off the numbers for the woman to write on the check, Melissa noticed the woman couldn’t write.  Melissa said, “May I help you?”  With a great deal of relief, the woman handed Melissa the pen.  She wrote the number on the check and said, “Now put the check in the envelope and seal it.”   Then Ellie put a stamp on the envelope, and I said, “Now go straight to post office and put it in the mailbox.”
The woman seemed a little confused and then she pointed and said, “The post office over there?”  I said, “Yes ma’am.”  She thanked everyone and quickly left for the post office.
After the very relieved woman left, I walked over to Becky and sat in the chair next to her.
Before I could say anything, Becky said, “Do you know the song “In This Very Room”?  It goes like this, “In this very room, there’s quite enough love for all of us.”  Then she nodded to Melissa and Ellie and said, “I just saw that love, in this very room.”
This got me thinking.
In a world filled with fear, anger, hopelessness, greed, bigotry, addiction, and violence, the church stands as a beacon of hope and help.  While you may not always see it, our church serves the desperate, the lonely, the afraid, the suffering, the hungry, and the hurting.  We do this because that’s why God put us here.
Yesterday, I saw one woman with no hope and another who was very afraid and not fully grasping what was going on.  Both walked out the doors of our church with hope.  It was a joy to see.
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:40)
While the world may have shoved these women to the margins, our church put them in the very center of God’s love.  It was a beautiful sight to behold.
Prayer:  Dear Gracious Heavenly God, help me to look past myself to see the suffering around me.  Use me to make a difference.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.
Yesterday, Becky helped me see the love going on right in front of me.  I would have missed it if she hadn’t pointed out our church is filled with love.  That’s a good thing.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.
Tom Robbins