We drive into the lot, my boys and I. We’re coming away from a full day having hosted friends this morning — their mom going to the last class for her foster adoption. Their lives undergo alteration: Their living room now divided in half to make a bedroom for a stranger, soon to be called “sister.” We gave our morning to them so they could give their lives, their home, their hearts to this unwanted and yet so very wanted child, and in one small way, we are a part of her story now.
We went to another friend’s for the afternoon. I knew we would need some filling. My little son didn’t want to play with the other children while we were visiting. “I just want time with you, Mommy,” he said, as he caressed my cheek and snuggled close, twisting my hair while I sat in the ease and comfort always given at the solid wood table in my friend’s artsy and welcoming home. She makes all things at ease by her very presence. My son continued to sit on my lap, playfully engaging with us and feeling the security of mother-love in that place.
We drove into the lot of the Winco supermarket after this day of pouring and filling. We had to get groceries for our family. Had to or got to? As we pulled in, he was there. His cardboard sign said in black marker, “Hungry and Homeless. Anything will help.” “He drew a cross, Mommy. That means he loves Jesus, Mommy. What will we get him, Mommy?” We had to get groceries. We get to get groceries.
We did our shopping and the boys pushed their way through the store helping me get herbs from the bulk food section, tying off bags of noodles from the bins, and picking their favorite flavors of ice cream. “Mommy, can we get the colored cones, please?” Outside he stands. He is hungry. Anything will help.
We check out. I pay the cashier with ease. A swipe of the card and a few buttons pushed — a weekly routine for us — and out we go, cart laden with not only what we need, but more, much more. We are not rich by our own standards. We find ourselves at times wanting more and counting and budgeting and making it last. He is hungry and anything will help.
The boys rush to the pizza counter. They don’t even look back to ask. They know. “Mommy, what flavor should we get him? Should we get him cheese? He needs vegetables, Mommy. No soda, Mommy, that’s not good for him because he is old.”
We go to the car, our gift of pizza in hand. “Mommy, I want to be the one to give it to him, I want to give it. What if he isn’t there anymore? Hurry, Mommy!” We load the car and drive to the entrance where he had been standing and he isn’t there. The sun is going down and we think he may have had to move on to wherever it is he will find a place to lay his head for the night. We don’t give up. God doesn’t give up.
We drive to the next lot to look. We see him. The boys are excited now. We pull up to where he stands and he is nearest to my oldest son’s side of the car. We roll down the window and my son hands him the pizza. This man looks with eyes that have seen too much of the ugliness of this world; eyes that have been avoided and overlooked too many times. He says, simply, “God bless you.” We all say, “God bless you!” I want to linger, to hear his story, to let him know we care more than just this slice of pizza. He turns away to sit and eat and we drive off with our car laden with more than we need.
My heart is more full than a grocery basket. I feel like weeping. It hits me in that moment. I hear the whisper, “Whatever you have done unto the least of my bretheren, you have done it unto Me.” Unto You, Lord? Yes. Unto Me. I just did this unto YOU? Yes. Unto Me.
I have just touched Jesus and I can barely contain it — the joy, the clarity, the overwhelming reality of Him Whom I have touched. I ask the boys, “Do you know what God says?” “What, Mom?” “He says that whatever we do unto anyone, especially the people who are made low in this world, we are doing unto Him. Unto Him. We just gave that pizza to Jesus! And whenever we pass someone by, we refuse to give, we ignore the needs right in front of us when we can do something to help, we are doing that unto Him as well.” My youngest is overjoyed. He asks questions in awe of this possibility. My oldest is contemplative. He silently ponders and finally utters, “Wow.” We all soak in the truth — this mystery — this love.
What kind of God is this Who makes Himself akin to the lowest of the low? Who is He that He makes Himself known in the exchange of a pizza slice? We are not exceptional. Our giving isn’t something amazing. We gave a piece of pizza. It wasn’t life-altering or earth shaking. It wasn’t even really a sacrifice. Yet, somehow I know my life has been altered. We are simple people, stained by sin. We too are the low. He makes Himself known as low touches low. Deep touches deep.
photos used in this post are courtesy of WikiCommons