I got schooled in pastoral ministry by my 6 year old son, Landon, last night. He was an innocent school master that taught me a hard truth about myself and sacrificial giving.
After church last night Landon and I stopped at a nearby Wal-Mart (Don’t Hate) to pick up a few things. As we came out of the store into the rain we were stopped by a homeless gentleman named, Jerry. Jerry began to ask me if I had any quarters that he and his wife could use to wash and dry their clothes that had been soaked by the rain throughout the day or give them some money for food.
You see Jerry and his wife Lynn live in the woods behind Wal-mart with many others. His wife has hepatitis and he’s been out of work for a long time. I explained to him that I didn’t have any cash in my wallet (rarely carry it) but I was more than happy to buy them dinner inside at the McDonalds. He was grateful.
Landon and I went back inside and purchased the food and brought it back out. Jerry said, “God bless you. Will you please pray for us.” I said, “Absolutely!”, and Landon and I circled up and held hands with Jerry in the Wal-Mart parking lot and prayed. We parted ways and I walked away feeling good that we had shown love to Jerry and that I had the opportunity to model Jesus for my son.
As we drove away Landon started this conversation:
Landon: “Dad, does Jerry not have any money?”
Me: “No he doesn’t.
Landon: Why doesn’t he get a credit card?
Me: Because you have to have money to have a credit card. (Not a universal truth)
Landon: Why does he live in the woods?
Me: He doesn’t have a place to live.
Landon: Why doesn’t he live in his car?
Me: He doesn’t have a car. You see son, that’s why we should be so grateful for what God’s given us and should be generous to share with others. That’s why Dad went in and bought him some food to show him the love of Jesus.
Landon: Dad, it’s raining outside. They’re stuff is all wet. We have a dry house. Why didn’t you invite him to spend the night and let him wash and dry his clothes there?
(BOOM……Deafening silence in the car.)
Landon: Dad, he doesn’t have a car. You could turn around and I know we could find him real quick and ask him. He’d probably be really happy and jump in the car.
Me: Son….(Tongue Tied)
Landon: Why didn’t you ask him that Dad?
(Landon continued this CIA type water boarding of questioning the entire way home.)
I finally got my whits about me and explained to him that I didn’t know this man and I have to be careful as a dad and husband to protect my family and be careful about who we invite in to our home. Landon seemed to understand and he seemed to roll with it.
I couldn’t roll with it.
The more I reflected on it, the more God wanted to speak to me about this.
The beautiful gift that a child brings is not only child-like faith, but also child-like solutions. In Landon’s mind it was simple: It’s Raining outside > He doesn’t have a home. > We do. > Let’s invite him.
Most kids aren’t jaded with all the reasons of why we “shouldn’t or can’t” do something. They just see the need and say, “Let’s fix this!” For me buying a meal for Jerry was easy. I’ve done that many times and frankly it was much cheaper than the inconvenience of having a homeless couple (that I don’t know) with all their wet stuff come to my house for the night.
While many might congratulate me. I felt exposed. I hadn’t considered going the extra mile. My point is that being a disciple of Jesus always means moving beyond what’s easy and comfortable. Thus the daily call to pick up our cross and follow Him.
Lessons Learned: 1. Look for the extra mile and walk it out with others. 2. Don’t take my son to Wal-Mart. 🙂
What about you? When has God challenged you to go the extra mile? Feel free to share your thoughts below.