vI am a Craigslist junkie. I troll it like I am going to find a hidden treasure any day now. I also look at everything. The stranger the ad title the more likely I am to look at it. I have only recently discovered the "want" section and as I am trying to rid myself of all excess household goods, I pore over that one the most thoroughly. Just in case someone might remind me of something I want to get rid of. Because I look at them so carefully I have become aware of a trend. People ask for a lot of weird stuff, but I can't believe the number of people who ask for a helping hand.
Now I know, because I said myself at first, "How do we know these aren't just lazy/greedy/incompetent people looking for a hand-out?" The answer: we don't. But as my mom and I have concluded, it doesn't matter. I am not anyone's Holy Spirit. What I give in a spirit of generosity I do not have to account for. I am called to give to those in need. I don't have to qualify their need. I don't need a ten step application for donating food, clothes or anything else to someone who asks for it. If I give the weary-looking tattered guy on the street corner $5 and he spends it on booze, that is between him and God. But if I tell him to be warm and well-fed and give him a cheeky grin...well the Bible is obvious about how God feels about that!
So, the question is: what to do? My heart was breaking driving down the highway Sunday noticing all the homeless shelters along the water. In our weather it is cold in my house, much less in a shanty made of tarp. Also, there was a heart breaking post on Craigslist from a military family who needed food for the weekend. Guy said he had four kids and some financial problems and aid wasn't available on Saturdays and Sundays. I know what we make. It is a very real possibility that someone at Joel's rank with four kids would be in a tight spot. A couple that I know just recently decided that the husband should join the reserves to gain access to healthcare. They are struggling to make ends meet and their child has ongoing health problems. You don't even have to be looking to find people who need help!
So, what to do, besides feel helpless and hopeless? What does what I give actually mean? Well, I truly believe that my pittance turns into abundance in the hands of the Lord. So, I give: cans of soup, shoe boxes, outgrown clothes. I give my time, and I become emotionally invested. I cry when I see the woman holding a sign that says she has kids she needs to feed. I don't try to evaluate whether or not she is "needy". I allow it to break my heart, that no matter her economic status, that she has been reduced to a place where she feels it is more profitable to do that than anything else. I can't resist a Salvation Army bell-ringer. My Christmas tradition is to never pass one without putting something in.
Most of all I pray. That I won't judge, that I will be open. That I will be like Jesus. I can't take care of every homeless person. I can't answer every Craigslist ad. However, I can try to make the spirit of Christmas, which is the grace that come through Christ Jesus, last all year long. And if nothing else, I can let it motivate me to be thankful. Because I know the Reason for the Season and He has promised to supply all my needs according to His glorious riches...and maybe along the way I can let Him use me to supply someone else's.