Yesterday was my day at FOCUS. Many of you know I work there one day of the month in the direct service office to handle any clients who need any kind of help. This is the front-line of FOCUS’ ministry, as all the money raised by the thrift store and all the food that is donated or collected gets handed out. We see a lot of people come in to the office, some are regulars, but many are there for the first time.
One such lady was “Teresa.” Teresa came in having never stepped foot into our offices. She had heard about the help FOCUS gives through another person who recently decided to give back to FOCUS by giving people free haircuts on the front porch. Teresa had never had to ask for help before, but had no where else to turn.
Teresa is a 30-something-year-old mom, with 7 children between the ages of 8 and 16. Hers is a combined family from both her previous marriage and her husband’s. They moved here recently from Colorado because her husband needed to take a new job. He was working for a local tow truck company, who haven’t been paying him as regularly as they should. With 7 kids, Teresa found it hard to look for a job herself. She has aspirations of getting her GED and trying to “pull her weight” in the family.
She came in with a water bill she needed to have paid. As usual, we went through all her other finances, and I asked her about their income level and their many bills. As you can guess with 7 kids, they spend a lot of money. When she handed me the water bill, which was around $175, she asked only for the minimum amount to be paid, which was $90. At FOCUS, we’re currently blessed to be able to give each client a maximum of around $150 when they make a request. Teresa had rattled off all the needs she had, not in a complaining way, but because I had asked. When she innocently asked for just the $90 to be paid, even though she clearly had more needs, my heart went out to her.
I asked her, “Teresa, you’re telling me you have all these bills and you are just asking for $90?” She nodded and I could tell even asking for $90 was tough for her. I said, “I’m going to pay your whole bill,” knowing that in special circumstances like this one, we can give a little more than the usual $150.
Teresa sat there stunned. Then big drops of water filled her eyes. As I got up to make a copy of her bill, I could hear her sobbing in gratitude.
All I did was offer Teresa $85 more than what she had asked. It was $85 worth of hope.
Maybe it was a drop in the bucket against the sea of expense she is in, but I believe it was worth much more.
God’s grace and love works just like that. We come to God with all our burdens. Even one drop of God’s grace and love can make those burdens seem lighter.
Are we giving people hope out there? Are we throwing out floatation devices when we see people drowning in pain, hurt, and brokenness? Or are we just standing in the boat criticizing how they got there?
Following the example of our risen Lord Jesus, may we be givers of hope to all those people we see. Even if it’s a drop in the bucket…it can be worth so much more.