Several years ago, I conducted a wedding south of us in the Indiana countryside. In fact, it was at a state park – McCormick’s Creek State Park, to be exact. It was an outdoor wedding at one of the larger shelters there and it was my first exposure to this beautiful location approaching the southern part of the state. Then, early last year, I learned more about the facility when it became the site of a bi-weekly meeting I held – coaching an executive of a company. It was a convenient place to meet – halfway between our two offices.
I came to really enjoy my time there; it was quiet, tranquil, serene and out in the middle of nature. The Canyon Inn serves lunch each day and has ample room to have uninterrupted conversations while enjoying the natural beauty of Indiana. I have told Janet about it many times and yesterday, we decided to take a drive and check out McCormick’s Creek for several other things that may be in the works.
It was a perfect fall day. The weather was crisp and clear and although Mother Nature has not put on her best show this year, the leaves were starting to turn and the signs of fall were undoubtedly starting to show. The ranger at the entrance to McCormick’s Creek was so bold as to tell us that he didn’t think Mother Nature was going to keep up her end of the bargain this year… I had to chuckle, never having heard it put quite that way before.
After lunch, and checking out the lodge, we started the drive back home and happened to pass a farm stand with pumpkins, gourds, apple cider and other reminders of the season. Since Janet and I have volunteered to help host a “Trunk or Treat” at church this week-end, we decided that we could decorate our car truck as a pumpkin patch. So we stopped, bought a bunch of stuff and got back on the road. But the stop put us both in a frame of mind to fully enjoy the day and realize how wonderful it was to be in rural Indiana where the people are authentic and caring.
I told Janet about several of the other places I tend to stop when I am heading to the southern part of the state and before I knew it, we were coming up on a small town where there is an older woman who paints scenes on pumpkins during the month of October. The last several years, I have stopped there and purchased a few painted “masterpieces” for our mantels at home.
The lady who paints has some pretty severe health issues, yet she continues as a way to pay the bills and keep her home. Her significant other is wheelchair bound and helps out in any way he can. To be sure, I stop by whenever I come through town. It is evident that life is pretty difficult for them. And every once in a while, Janet and I run across someone who we really feel compelled to reach out to. So, although the tables of pumpkins in the front yard were covered with plastic, and the wheelchair on the front porch was empty, I felt compelled to stop and see if I could buys some of her wares. I rang the doorbell, found out that my painter friend was ill and making the rounds of doctors today, and asked if I could still buy several pumpkins.
The painter’s sister, obviously not well herself, invited me to pick out what I wanted and she would pass along the payment to her sister. As I looked around, I had a real sense of need in this place. Clearly, things have not gone well, repairs hadn’t been made and the front yard was overgrown. On top of all the illness, it looks like life has given this family more than their share of problems. And in the midst of all this despair sat these whimsical seasonal pumpkins. Janet and I made our purchase, returned to the car and continued our drive home.
The entire time, we felt great about stopping and helping the “painted pumpkin” people as well as the folks at the farm stand that we visited earlier. Giving, done in the right frame of mind, is very rewarding and I was reminded of a particular Bible verse that I couldn’t get out of my head. It is the story of Jesus telling people about the sick and the poor. We are told, in Matthew 25:35-40, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “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 Jesus loves it when we reach out and engage those who may not be as fortunate as we are. My prayer is that you will make an extra effort as we approach the holiday season to be aware of those situations where you can really make a difference. Besides that, it feels great to help others! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…