As you know, I have been traveling quite a bit the last several months and with the summer months coming up, there is a tremendous amount of construction on the main roads down to Evansville and other areas south. In fact, trying to get to Louisville from Indianapolis is also quite a feat and there are long delays almost everywhere you go on the highways and byways of our state. And what a beautiful state it is…
I have been enjoying my trips but as it has become increasingly difficult to travel, I have had to find more creative ways to get to the southern part of the state. The past several weeks, since a trip when Janet joined me, I have taken an out of the way route that winds through the small towns on the way to Evansville. The route is filled with twists and turns and all kinds of little businesses and shops that are a delight to visit as I drive through our state.
Anyway, several weeks ago I was driving home and ran across a small outdoor farmstand kind of place that was selling spring flowers, hanging baskets and pots of floral arrangements. Knowing how much Janet likes this kind of thing, I stopped, bought a number of items and loaded up the car with as many baskets and planters as I could. Something was tugging at me letting me know that this was the right thing to do. The rest of the way home it smelled like I was in a florist shop – all the fragrances of the fresh flowers surrounding me. Janet loved the things I purchased and I told her the story of the young girl who helped me.
Her family had just built the stand and it wasn’t yet completed. The floor was gravel and Emma, the young lady, didn’t have any shoes on. Her younger sister was also there and helped me load my car. I let them know that I would be in the area the next week and would try to stop by to get more plants.
Sure enough, yesterday, as I was returning home, I noticed a whole new inventory of plants. Of course, Emma was there and I stopped to fill up the car once again. There was just something so compelling about the whole situation. Great flowers, a family that obviously had to work hard to make ends meet; and little children that took on adult responsibility far before most kids their age would find that necessary to do. As I left, I called Janet and let her know that I felt great that we had helped out this small family business.
Then, heading out of town, I noticed a sign indicating what road to take to visit the family’s greenhouses. By this time, I was curious and followed the signs about a mile off the main route until I came to the family farm – 40 acres in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful? Absolutely! But the poverty of the area was almost overwhelming. The shacks that passed for houses were lining both sides of the road – and when I entered the driveway of the greenhouse, I was met by three dogs and more family members.
I met “Mom” and “Dad” and found out the the family had 7 children. They worked hard in four greenhouses and lived on the property. The kids were rather dirty, but very pleasant, and the parents were most gracious although it was apparent that they were barely scraping by. I left, having purchased another plant, and felt even better that Janet and I had decided to help out by patronizing their family business.
When I was in seminary, I met a number of people who were some of the most God fearing folks I have ever encountered. I loved the way they honored the Lord and how they were committed to a simple life. I couldn’t help but think of the same thing when I visited the greenhouse. Simple people living a simple life and committed to the Lord. Our verse for the evening is from the gospel of Matthew. We are told, in Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
My encouragement this evening is that God rejoices when we help those less fortunate than we are. Whether it is leaving a gratuity for the maid who services your hotel room, or leaving an abnormally large tip for a server in a restaurant, God applauds our sharing with others. My prayer is that we all will be a little more aware of the needs around us and perhaps we can commit more of our resources to those who God considers brothers and sisters in need. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…