Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pay It Forward

Did you see the movie? The basic theme of the movie is “treat others the way you want to be treated.” You’ll find this in the Bible in the book of Matthew – part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Last weekend, we were undeserving recipients of a small gift.

It had been over two years since we last visited the PNW when we arrived in September. So we looked forward to visiting our old stomping grounds and hanging out with old friends. We figured taking a week or two to settle into our house would still get us down to “The Couv” (Vancouver, WA) within the month. Well now it’s February and our excuses were becoming more pathetic – so last Saturday we took a drive.

Six hours (round trip) in a van with three kids is a bit daunting. But with a DVD player and a bucket of guilt, we were better equipped to make this happen. We made as many stops as possible and missed a few as well. It was great to reminisce and catch up with our friends…and to begin guilting them into driving to see us. In addition to “friend stops” we had a few “food stops” to make. #1: Sheridan’s Frozen Custard. #2 Hula Boy (Hawaiian BBQ). It was during this second visit upon which my story centers. After shoveling down barbecue chicken and gallons of sauce (jerk, teriyaki, and sweet & sour) our waitress walked to the table letting us know that our meal had been paid for.

Apparently one of the restaurant’s patrons had been dining and noticed the five of us. There was something about us he noticed, signaling him that we could use a helping hand. Sarcastically I wonder if it was our ragamuffin appearances after a three hour car ride. Uncomfortably I know that though we don’t own a private jet, we’re doing just fine. Was it the fact that our son was clearly adopted? Did God speak to him?

I wanted answers, but I resolved to just accept it. Somebody just did a really nice thing for us, so shut up and enjoy it. And I did. We’ve done nice things for others at times and I’m sure it gave us more pleasure than the recipients.

It’s in moments like that, that I am invigorated. Life seems more real. It slows down. It gets really simple. I become the world’s greatest philanthropist. I make plans to give away millions and to bless thousands of people with gifts. But I’m limited. I can only give away so much. We’ve only adopted one child while millions need it. Tens of thousands of children starve to death every day and I’m drinking a $4 cup of coffee. I’m reminded of crime, disease, homelessness, and human trafficking. Pretty soon I’m crippled with a helpless state of mind.

If you watch the news, life is hopeless. Everything sucks. Even your team just lost in the playoffs. But for me, in some small way I get to pay it forward with a message I get to share each week. While trying to save the earth one recycled bottle and one Haiti-donation at a time, I get to convey real hope:

“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the Lord, remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. He sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts those who are bowed down, loves the righteous, watches over the alien, sustains the fatherless and the widow.” – Psalm 146

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