by Anita Schamber, oneLifemaps Facilitator
During the recent busy Christmas season, when have you noticed the love of God through the kindness and compassion of others?
As my 4 year old granddaughter, Claire Arney, rode in the back seat of her mother’s car one bitterly cold December day on the way to preschool in Denver, she noticed a homeless man on the corner holding a makeshift, cardboard sign with the scrawled words “Cold, Hungry, Ugly, Dirty.” Mr. CHUD, as they named him, was one of many homeless persons Claire had asked questions about with her parents. They explained that they gave money to the church and shelters to help homeless people who weren’t as fortunate as their family.
On this particular day, Claire apparently wasn’t content simply passing by and watching Mr. CHUD standing alone in the cold, hoping that their gifts to the church and shelters might help him. As the car passed Mr. CHUD, Claire sat silent for a few moments and then decided, “Mom, I’m going to help Mr. CHUD. Tomorrow, I’m going to bring him a breakfast bar, a banana and some money from my piggy bank.” When she arrived at school, Claire continued, “Mom, I’ll also bring Mr. CHUD a cup of milk.” Her mother agreed that milk was a good idea, but it might be difficult to provide; yet she commended Claire on her thoughtfulness.
After school and into that evening, no further conversation about Claire’s plan for Mr. CHUD arose, so her parents thought that her plan was a fleeting thought. That was, until bedtime. As they prepared Claire’s school things for the next morning, Claire also diligently began to gather gifts for Mr. CHUD. Before going to bed, Claire grabbed $2 from her piggy bank, a banana from the countertop and a breakfast bar from the cupboard, and announced that she would give them to Mr. CHUD the next morning.
The next morning Claire added two hand warmers to her little bag and headed out the door with her daddy, excited about the prospect of giving them to Mr. CHUD. As their car approached the corner, they spotted Mr. CHUD, cold and not dressed for the frigid weather, with his nearly illegible, but quite accurate sign. They stopped the car 50 feet short of the corner and beckoned to Mr. CHUD to come to the car. When Mr. CHUD neared the car, Claire rose up from her car seat, proudly and sweetly, and raised her bag toward Mr. CHUD’s outstretched arms. She carefully explained, “I made this bag just for you. Inside it you will find, money, food and hand warmers,” and her daddy added, “She is a 4-year old and the money is from her own piggy bank.” Mr. CHUD then smiled, revealing only a few cracked teeth, a smile that seemed to be his first in a long time. Then, in a weak, but genuinely appreciative and sincere voice, he said, “Thank you very, very much, honey.”
As they drove away, Claire simply said, “Good! Now Mr. CHUD can buy whatever he wants!” And her daddy smiled. As my son retold the story to me, his mother, via e-mail, he wrote, “I’m not sure what that visit really meant to Mr. CHUD, but for me, the joy I felt pounding in my heart as we drove down the road was a realization that Christmas came early for me this year on that early Tuesday morning."
Is it any wonder that Jesus wanted the adults to “let the little children” come to Him? He knew their pure hearts, love, and compassion were unfettered by the prejudice, cynicism, hatred, and materialism of the larger world. When I learned of my granddaughter’s giving spirit, I, too, smiled and then cried – grateful for her act of compassion and generosity and the reminder to be Christ to others. Jesus calls each of us to respond as Claire did, for when we do this to and for the least of those in this world, we do it to and for Him.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. . .” Matthew 25:35
“I tell you the truth,, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3-4
How is Jesus calling you to respond to the needs of those around you?