It all started with a status I read on Facebook:
“URGENT NEED….Everyone please read this….
A call was received asking us to let folks know that the Holy Family Soup Kitchen only has TWO coats to pass out this winter to the homeless. If you have any warm coats/jackets you no longer need or love- would you please consider donating to Holy Family Soup Kitchen and drop off at 584 W, Broad Street at the HFC Parrish building- or get with me. They have never been this low before- so please share this message. They also have donation slips, Thank you. If you can arrange to get the coats to me or have me pick up, I will see that they are delivered. It is getting cold very soon…. Be grateful you are living indoors. Let’s help them get their coat supply built up. May God bless you for your generosity!!!”
I read it and started to scan my coat supply in my head, counting and sorting and thinking through all the jackets I own.
I know I have a few of those Walmart long cheap coats I stocked up on for 20 bucks a pop. I bought a back up for my back up. And then there is that Gap down coat I bought 15 years ago at the outlet store for 10 bucks when Derek and I were dating. Although the zipper ripped a while back, along with the pockets down the side, it’s still a decent coat I continue to wear for quick runs to school. Then there’s that dress coat I bought at Kohl’s on clearance a few years back because I really wanted a nice warm coat for those more formal affairs. And I forgot about the cute colored wool coats I got on clearance at Target about five years ago… Gosh I haven’t worn those in ages! And then of course, I have the one I recently bought at the thrift store- much thicker and warmer than the cheap Walmart ones… I needed a coat that could close and keep me warm through those bitter winter days. And my fall jackets? Oh now there’s a pile I can surely go through… Jean jackets, blazers, rain coats and hooded fleece. The list goes on and on…
One word came to my mind after this inventory:
As I walked over to our closet that revealed the evidence of my ongoing coat list lingering in my head, I passed the lines of shoes stretched out haphazardly piling on top of each other. Mounds of gym shoes bought for my kids, for me… Most of them cheap, on sale of course. My daughter might in fact have a color shoe for every outfit she wears. At $6.00 a pair, you can’t go wrong, right? I have just as many that I have collected through the years…
Conviction continued to settle into my already stirred heart, as I proceeded to open my fridge to get a drink, I noticed that smell.
The smell of rotting produce I bought and never used. Or maybe it was the eggs or the leftovers never eaten.
People are starving out there, and I throw out food every single day.
You should see the shelves in my basement. My husband says we could live on our stock for a year if we had to…
When there’s a sale, I make sure to take full advantage of it.
I can see lines of boxes of crackers, bags of chips, soup cans, and granola bars. Bundles of bags and boxes stacked on top of one another, representing a storage pantry that could possibly feed an army. Or at least my family, for a long long time.
Same word sat heavy in my heart…
We need for nothing.
Now, we’re not extravagant people. Don’t misunderstand our indulgences for recklessness. Our biggest luxury lies in taking the family out for a $7.00 loaded Gyros at our local diner. It’s a thrill. No seriously. We get excited about this very thing. Our family has only been on a few vacations- all of which were to visit family for free. We are frugal people and careful stewards with our finances.
We really are…
People need coats.
People need shoes.
People need food.
We have an abundance of them all.
Conviction has now settled into passion.
A deep resounding passion.
It’s time to give.
Coats. Shoes. Food. Money. Whatever we’ve got to give.
Whatever you’ve got to give?
Because I’m guessing there may be a tiny possibility that you can count quite a few coats too. Maybe not. How many pairs of shoes line your entryway? A few more than needed? Perhaps your fridge reeks of rotting food that was never eaten too. Maybe not.
As for me?
I am going to go through our coats- and find those we don’t wear… and maybe some we do.
I am going to whittle away at our endless shoe supply and bag those we don’t need.
And give them. To those who do.
I am going to commit to simplifying my grocery list, to decrease the leftovers and with that money saved- I will buy more coats. To give.
I bought my new lovely warm winter coat for 8 dollars at the thrift store.
I can surely buy a few more to give away, if I’m just a wee bit more careful with our food budget.
And here’s where it gets hard.
I love our stuff.
It’s security, comfort, and honestly? Thoroughly enjoyable.
This won’t be an easy feat…
But how dare I wrestle with want when there is need surrounding my indulgent world.
As I recognize how much we have and how much others need, I realize once again, that we are called to serve and love “the least of these”…
With our own bounty of blessings.
We’ve got a lot to give.
And after we do?
I’m guessing we won’t even miss that stuff anyway.
The ability to care for another who desperately needs our provision, brings more joy and fulfillment than our ‘stuff’ ever could.
How about you?
May I suggest you join me in going through your own UN-needed excess of coats and shoes and drop them by your local shelters?
Just think of all the people that could possibly stay warm…
With our excess.
Luke 3:11 (NIV)
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
Matthew 25:40New International Version (NIV)
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’