I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “special occasions”. I guess it’s because we have one coming up very soon – our annual Christmas contata.
There are a lot of special occasions and special days. There’s Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Sunday School Rally Day, the Stewardship banquet, clean-up day at the church, hotdogs and a movie, a visit to Riverfront Park, and a group trip to one of our favorite restaurants.
All special – days … events … the fellowship. But what do we really remember? Then, does it really matter in the long run of our lives? I wonder … God, I hope it does!
What does it all mean to say “It was really special!” What MAKES it really special?
I’m not sure that I really know.
But let me share with you some things I’ve observed – hopefully learned – from my own family … your families … and from some on the outer fringes of our comfort zones in our own community.
How many of you have experienced a severe illness of one or more of your children … a divorce of your child … or some behavioral problem? I have. Sometimes it may have been a grandchild – the one we delighted in “spoiling”. But, something went awry. I (you) felt passionate about it! But, what could we do? So, caught in the chasm of hopelessness/hopefulness, we had to wait.
Sometimes our worst fears were realized. At other times something wonderfully redemptive happened. Restoration was restored! It was a SPECIAL OCCASION! … One we’ll remember!
My wife and I are privileged by you, on a regular basis, to take food and other nonperishable items that you provide to the Albany Rescue Mission. We think that is one of our more important (special?) missions.
But, my contact with them is not all that personal. I apologize for that, because it is our entire church membership that I represent. Thankfully, however, no one has ever really complained or offered to replace us with a little more compassion. After all, we’re “doing our part”.
Talk about accidents! (I think God deliberately plans these things!) One day, out by myself, I ran into a guy. He was dirty, ragged, and a bit smelly. But, for some reason, we started up a conversation. (Curiosity, I guess. I’ve always been a bit curious … in more ways than one … according to my Sunday school class.)
He was uneducated and had worked at hard manual labor for very low wages. He had had a wife and two children. He couldn’t earn enough money to take care of them. He went “kind of crazy”. (It happens many times … I’ve seen it at Milledgeville’s Central State Hospital.) He got into drugs and alcohol, lost his wife and children. (They could do better on welfare than endure the hardship of having HIM around.) So, after a stint in the hospital, he “hit the streets”.
He should have been at the Albany Rescue Mission, but he wasn’t. “Too proud,” I later learned. Wow! Pride, I thought. Boy, is THAT a twist?!
I said, “Have you had lunch today” “Lunch?” he said. “Man! I don’t ever have lunch. I eat what I can when I can, and sleep where I can – when I find a place.”
I said, “I think I’m getting hungry. Come on, let’s get some lunch.” He just said, “OK.”
We went to a small café – one that I think I didn’t would throw us out because of how we looked or smelled.
I said, “Eat up. Anything you want.” I got a hamburger and a coke. He ordered “everything on the menu”!
As I watched him ravishingly eat his food, I was almost overwhelmed by built. Part of me wanted to do this EVERY day, but I couldn’t.
Was I really helping … or was I just playing the part of “another Christian hypocrite”?
Tears welled up in my eyes … for him … or for me? I don’t know which.
I just sat there in silence. He finished, and I said, “Did you get enough?” He said, “Yes, sir.”
I said to him, “I’m sorry that I can do this for you every day.” Then he said, “Thanks, that’s OK. For me this day has been very SPECIAL.” Then he walked out – to where, I don’t know.
I thought of myself as I walked out, “This HAS been a very special OCCASION!” …
By Joseph S. Dukes III
One that I will never (hopefully) ever forget!