Friday, March 22, 2013

Little Things That Matter

There was this family that the Deacon's wife felt sorry for, she of the discerning eye and generous heart. Their broken fence reminded her of the old unheated farm house that she grew up in, and how everything always seemed to be in ill repair as her poor family struggled under a father who could never provide adequately for his many children. Mrs. Deacon remembered all too well what it was like to sleep on the floor in front of the stove on the coldest nights, huddled together with her siblings. It seemed like such a little thing at the time.

On days when Mrs. Deacon worked her job at a market stand, she would often bring leftover food that had gone unsold to the Grateful family, hoping to be a small blessing where so much must be needed. Mrs. Grateful would meet her at the door with her three preschoolers, and thank Mrs. Deacon for thinking of them. It's the little things, she thought with satisfaction. She remembered what it was like to be a busy young mother, and how there was never enough hands or hours in the day to get everything done.

 It came to be known in the church that there was a great need among the brotherhood. A man in the community had become suddenly ill, and required expensive medication. Their savings exhausted, and prognosis poor, a special collection would be taken to help see this man and his wife through the storm. The Deacon would be visiting each family who could make a contribution. That afternoon at dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Grateful discussed the need. Mr. Grateful said he would check their books and see what could be done for the ailing man. After all, they had been putting away a little here and there.

Two weeks later, Mr. Deacon sat at his desk having just counted out a substantial donation from his fellow church members. Mrs. Deacon was in the kitchen preparing supper, and saw her husband resting in the chair.

"Was there a good collection?" she inquired.
"Yes, very good. I think this will really help with the medication cost, and maybe pay a few doctor bills, too."

Mr. Deacon sat contemplating his next words, uncertain how much to share with his wife about such a private church matter. He decided to tell Mrs. Deacon the surprising news that over half of the money in the collection came from one family. The Grateful's. That was no little thing.

Three miles away, Mrs. Grateful was home cleaning out the refrigerator.

"We have so much food in here." Mrs. Grateful felt guilty about any waste, but consoled herself with the knowledge that at least they had plenty to eat, a warm house, and few worries. Sure, there were a few things that needed done about the place, but that wasn't as important right now as spending time with her children and helping others, like that poor neighborhood man with the many doctor bills. Mrs. Grateful thought for a moment that perhaps the next time Mrs. Deacon dropped by with some leftovers from the market, she could redirect them to the sick man and his wife. She could even add a couple loaves of her own bread. Every little bit helps.

 I watched these little acts of faith unfold at a place I'll call Anonymous Valley Mennonite Church, but little things can make a difference anywhere. A wise man once said, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

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