I was on my way to a ministry called Hope for the Hungry as a part of my commitment to Urban Kinetic. I didn’t feel very enthusiastic about my commitment. I don’t necessarily mind serving those less fortunate than me, and I certainly don’t mind hard work. But I think I may have had a little selfishness lodged in my heart about it.
When we reached Hope for the Hungry, I thought we were just going to fill and stack boxes of food in a warehouse. As it turned out, we personally filled grocery carts for people as they came through a miniature grocery store with prepared boxes of produce, bread, meat, dairy, etc.
At 8 o’clock, they started letting people in one by one. What I noticed most was the many different looks on their faces as they entered the room. Some had smiles and an upbeat demeanor. They came ready to share their joy. They smiled. They engaged in small talk. Maybe they didn’t have much, but no one was going to take away their smile. Others looked a little embarrassed to be there. They didn’t say much. They kept their eyes and heads down. It was almost as though shame were written across their chests in big bold letters.
When it came time for us to leave, I began to process the significance of my being there. These beautiful people were only allowed to visit once every few weeks or so in order to prevent any one person from taking advantage of the resource. My small investment of time wasn’t going to make a dent in the problem of hunger in this community.
Later that evening…
I coach my younger son’s 9- and 10-year-old football team along with Nate Rupert. Near the end of practice that Monday evening, two of our players collided at mid-field. One of them began screaming and writhing around on the ground. It was so dramatic that at first we thought he was just playing a joke on all of us; but as he continued we realized he was in real pain.
As we approached, we could see that his thumb had been dislocated. It was pretty awful to look at and most of us gave a pretty natural human reaction: we turned our heads and looked away. Fortunately for the player, Nate ran toward him, took him by the hand, calmed him down and gently returned his thumb back to its natural place.
The next morning...
As I was processing the day I had just had, the Lord uncovered something for me. I learned something from that football practice that He was trying to teach me in connection to Urban Kinetic. Often our natural, human response is to look away from someone else’s pain; but Urban Kinetic is teaching us the heart of God—to move toward people’s pain and look at it—actually see it.
It isn’t that we need to be the solution that ends people’s pain forever. (Our player will experience pain beyond having his thumb put back in place!) It is to allow the Holy Spirit to train us to stop looking away from it.
When I return to Hope for the Hungry, I will do it with renewed vision, and fresh perspective on what the Lord wants to work in me when it comes to engaging in the pain around me.
I don’t have to have all the answers, I just have to stay connected to the One who does.