She walked through the doors of the children’s cancer ward in a Nicaraguan hospital feeling helplessness with an overwhelming sense of sympathy and compassion. Paint was peeling from the walls that were barely holding up as a shelter for the patients, and a musky, “sick” smelling odor was hovering in the air. She roamed the halls looking for a certain young man that she hoped to bring joy to, but as she turned every corner, she found even more young souls desperately seeking comfort and peace during their fight with cancer. Her emotions were running wild within her being. There was so much she wanted to say, so much she wanted to do, but standing there with her arms full of juice boxes, she felt small, and somewhat useless in the situation. With every child she passed, the urge to do more to help grew within her soul. All she had to give was a smile and a tiny juice box, and that is just what she did.
With each child that she passed, she offered the juice boxes, and they were received with the best smile that the sick and hurting child could give her. She yearned to do more, but at that time, in that moment, the juice was all she had to give. And so, as they made their way through the hospital, she gave what she could, she gave all that she had, and she poured all of her love and compassion into the little juice boxes that she gave away, hoping that somehow, the gesture would make a difference, even if it was just for today.
This was the scene that played through my mind as my friend, and sister in Christ, shared one of her stories from the last trip she had made to Nicaragua. As she read through the thoughts that she had written down from the experience, I could hear the helplessness in her voice as she explained her visit. I could almost hear a bit of well intended sarcasm as she explained how the children were so sick and in need and all she had to give were juice boxes. I saw more than that. I saw a greater plan in motion, I saw a Heavenly Being working on her heart and in the hearts of those children and the people that tended to them. To her, it was just a juice box, to them it was hope, it was nourishment to their bodies and to their souls. To me, it was a man and a woman who continually give beyond their means. I saw everything behind this act of kindness. The year of planning the trip, the money spent, the hours of prayer, the time given, the safety compromised, and the energy expelled, all to hand out juice boxes to the sick. I saw love knowing no boundaries, and compassion. In this act, the Lord peered down into her soul and felt her burning need to show her love to the children. I had pictured the moment the juice box left her hand, so did every emotion she had stirring with in her and somehow, with the Lord there in their midst, that raw and blameless act of kindness was felt deeply within the heart of every child she met. There was a language barrier hovering over them, but each and every one of the children understood that her act was one of love and service. They may not have realized it yet; why she was doing what she was doing, or who she was serving, but she knew, and her Father knew, and in that very act of kindness, she was able to worship her Father in heaven in a new way, and be a blessing to all that she had come into contact that day.
Gail’s story had a deep effect on me. It is funny how a simple thing can do that. To her, she was just re-telling an incident that had impacted her, but unknowingly in the process, just as the juice boxes, she had an impact on me. It made me re-focus on the small act of service I do every day, not knowing how to exactly show the love behind each act. My small acts entail watching over my family and making sure my children and husband find a peaceful within me and our home. I have to say, I am not that “peaceful rest” half of the time, but I want to be. With every piece of clothing folded, and with every toy and shoe I find misplaced, I try to think of my family, and pray over them as I fold their tiny little PJ’s. I pray over our meals as I prepare them in hopes that it will bring nourishment (even the meals that come from fast food bags). Our greatest command is to love one another. Sometimes, we make this command so difficult. We turn it into something so hard and unattainable. As Gail spoke of her trip to Nicaragua, I yearned to go there and help out as they do, and felt guilty because I couldn’t. We mustn’t do that to ourselves. Opportunities are all around us, and if we focus on what we can do, and not on what we cannot do, we will be more effective in our everyday ministries.
I used to have a T-shirt when I was in Jr High from my FFA program that said “Do the best with what you have, when you can, where you are.” Today, dig deeper into the mundane tasks that you perform. If you are writing a note of encouragement, or a get well wish, take the time to say a prayer for the person whom you are addressing. If you are ironing your hubby’s clothes for work, pray for him. With every meal cooked, and every dish washed, get into the habit of saying a prayer for those whom you are washing or cooking for. In the workplace, take the time to offer up a prayer on your lunch break and be an example to your co-workers that you are different, that you were “called for a higher purpose.” It may not seem like much, but the prayers will be heard by our good and gracious Father in heaven, and He will bless you, and those that you pray over. Find your juice box moment, and just pour your love into it, and be the example that God has called you to be.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV)