Have you ever known need? Have you ever been hungry and not known where your next meal is coming from? While I have been blessed not to know this sense of desperation, I have seen the face of despair in many and heard stories of desperation from years past.
I was recently standing at a gasoline pump filling my tank. When a car pulled in next to me. After hearing the engine, I immediately thought, they are lucky to be going anywhere.
In just a matter of minutes the man had stuck his head around the pump and passing the time of day. He shared the family’s story with me and I listened as I pumped. I realized as the conversation progressed that it was apparent as I looked into his face that they were in real need.
Some years ago, I remember performing out in Texas with the gospel group, The Marksmen. We had had a long trip and the old bus was traveling rough.
As we drove through the areas of Louisiana and Texas that were deeply tied to the oil industry, you could see the shadow of doubt that covered the faces of the people. The bottom had fallen out and many could no longer afford to even pump the crude that supported their way of life. Families were hurting.
We pulled up to a little church out in the middle of a farm area somewhere between Dallas and Houston. The little church probably held 100 on its best day.
When we arrived some men from the church cheerfully assisted Keith Chambers, Rob Gillentine and Earle Wheeler with some repairs on the bus.
In spite of the depressed economy we had seen as we stopped along our trip, this little church seemed to be an island. The women of the church soon arrived; gleefully putting together a Texas spread fit for Sam Houston, filled with fried chicken, corn on the cob and green beans with a side of fatback. They went out of their way to make us weary travelers feel at home as we scurried around setting up the sound equipment and record table.
As we watched the congregation trickle in that evening to reach around 60 folks or so, I thought that was a long way to go to sing to such a small group of people. Before we even stepped up on the pulpit, you could feel the spirit of God filling the room. The church came alive with rejoicing; those whose faces came in laden with heavy burdens seemed to smooth as their concerns were lifted, if only momentarily.
After the singing and the eating were over, the bus was running again, loaded and we were once again on the road. Down the road a ways, it was customary to check over the offering and sales figures. None of us could believe what the count yielded. The amount given and bought by that little congregation exceeded that of some of the largest churches I have ever been in. I know some of those folks probably needed the money more than we did but they gave anyway.
I was blessed in their spirit and their faith.
Sometimes even when we find ourselves in despair, giving and helping others can lift us from those depths. Have you ever met someone when you asked, how they are, they really tell you?
After several minutes of sharing their problems, I imagine it makes them feel better. Or does it? Do they go to the next person and share the same afflictions?
If we only remember that each time we see someone, it is the opportunity to share joy and happiness. Everyone has problems. If we can only lift each other’s load for just a moment by sharing happiness, much like these folks at that little church did for us through their spirit of love in the face of hard times. We came to brighten their lives through the message of God’s love through music. After seeing such despair along the road, it turned out they were the ones who brightened mine.
Did you uplift or help someone today?