Friday, September 5, 2014

Dirt Biscuits and Beach Houses

Matthew 25:34-40 - 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or without clothes and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and visit You?’ 40 “And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’

My family never had an abundance of money when I was growing up. To be honest, we were poor. But somehow we always had what we needed, though often not what we wanted. With the help of scholarships, I worked my way through college. I met my wife in college, and she helped me work through graduate school. Eventually I earned a doctorate. Though my chosen career is ministry related, and notably underpaid, the Lord has always provided for us. Through hard work and careful planning, my wife and I have been able to provide a middle-class lifestyle for our children. Though our children have never been rich, they have also never known the poverty I knew growing up.

One of the blessings of being middle class is taking a vacation. Though we have not been able to do it the last three years, there was a time when my family enjoyed a week at the beach each summer. The summer my daughter got married, we rented a bigger beach house than normal for all the wedding guests, and we really felt rich, even if only for a few days. The house looked like something on a TV show about rich people. It helped that the groom’s family knew the owners and got us a good deal! While there, my family discussed how blessed we were to experience this level of luxury, even if only for a week. In the discussion we also talked about what it must be like for people who live in such poverty that such luxury is not possible, even for a week-long vacation.

We specifically talked about Haiti, since our family has visited that small island nation on a mission trip and one of my sons spent a whole summer serving orphans there. The poverty in Haiti is almost unimaginable. Food prices are so high in Haiti that some of the people eat what is commonly referred to as dirt biscuits: dried yellow clay mixed with water, salt, and vegetable shortening or margarine. Though originally designed for medicinal purposes, the biscuits have now become the staple diet for some people in Haiti. It is hard for those of us who live in America to imagine people being so hungry they would eat a biscuit made from dirt. Yet, that is a common meal for far too many people in Haiti.

As we sat in our rented beach house enjoying our wedding party and eating far too much food, we could not help but think about people in places like Haiti who were eating dirt biscuits to stave off hunger for one more day. Dirt biscuits came up several times in our conversations that week. But we knew it must be more than just a subject of conversation. Our talk must translate into action. We felt compelled to put feet to our conversation. As a result, our family supports the ministry of God's Littlest Angels orphanage in Petionville, Haiti. One of our sons eventually spent 74 days at the orphanage helping expand their facilities.

Those of us who have been blessed by God must do something to make a difference in the lives of those who are not so blessed. The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that when we help the least of these in the name of Christ, then we have served Christ Himself. What a powerful truth to remember in a world full of inequity.

Lord, help those of us who have so much see the needs of those who have so little and respond in ways that can make a real difference. Amen.

This post is an excerpt from the book, The Heavenly Mundane: Daily Devotions from Ordinary Experiences. Filled with stories of how God spoke in big ways through small events, the book will encourage people to look for God in the mundane things of life. Great for both personal use and to give as a gift to friend, either the print version or the e-book version may be purchased at this link:

1 comment:

  1. Very moving Pastor!! I remember my own school and college days when being inside or outside the house really did not matter during very heavy rain. Once i came back from college during a very heavy downpour only to find my father sitting inside the house with an umbrella!! But those days were my best.. without a care!! Our house was next to our Church and it was heaven on earth truly!!