Put Your Ounce of Faith Into Action Before Today Ends

Put Your Ounce of Faith Into Action Before Today Ends
Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

The small headline caught my eye: “Local food bank need rises 200% – Donations decline under state’s stay-at-home order.”

The story was hidden under the ‘bigger’ one about a couple hundred protesters honking car horns on the capital’s streets, venting anger and frustration, demanding that the state reopen for business.

They’re part same issue, of course – how to handle the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. No one has clear answers.

But the alarming facts about hunger and unemployment have spiraled out of the air like a U.S.-sized tornado. Over the last 5 weeks 26 million Americans have filed jobless claims. The sum of filings may suggest the unemployment rate hovers around 20%.

Translation: too many people have suddenly lost the ability to pay for the necessities.

Of 200 U.S. foodbanks belonging to the nationwide network Feeding America, 98% said this week they have experienced a surge in demand concurrent with the pandemic outbreak, and 59% say their inventory has decreased. As demand increases, what’s been collected and stored to be given out doesn’t meet current needs. What’s more – about 50% of the clients now visiting food banks are new clients – people who didn’t need assistance just a few weeks ago.

Don’t let your eyes glaze over. These people are your neighbors. And mine.

We pray for them, and we have faith that God will provide. But we can’t stop there. The Lord sent manna to feed the hungry Israelites, but today He’s sent you and me.

Scripture tells us,“[F]aith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)

God expects us to live out our love for Him in our deeds, and He needs us to do His work in the world. His undying Love is expressed through us – people who allow our faith to shine through our hands and hearts.

So, how can we help?

  • The primary need is funding for food banks, and we can all donate online without ever leaving our couches. Click here on Feeding America to find your local food bank with your state or zipcode. Go to it and contribute $10, $20, $100, or any amount you can. Then, if your budget allows, set a reminder on your phone to make the same donation again in 2 weeks, or monthly, until this crisis ends. Wholesale purchasing amplifies your gift, so your dollar will go farther with an online donation than if you buy groceries and drop them at a food bank in person. At the Anne Arundel County Food Bank near me, every $1 donated equals $7.85 of help.
  • Donate time. Be a driver, package food, or even volunteer virtually by making donor thank-you calls or writing thank-you notes. For example, in Maryland, the Maryland Food Bank in Baltimore is looking for volunteers ages 13-60 to sort and box food. Inquire locally to see what’s needed in your area.
  • Check in with your favorite pantry or shelter and offer the team support. One of my favorites is The Father McKenna Center in Washington, DC. Ask if you can drop off blankets, clothes, or other supplies when you are out. They know who needs what; if they can’t use what you’re offering, they’ll know who will.
  • Forward this post to your friends and family. Remind them that we can all do something. Especially right now.

Each person is a reflection of the divine, and Love Himself demands a response. To stand by and do nothing when people are suffering is to look upon God and turn away. So let’s turn our efforts toward the beautiful faces of people in need and do whatever we can to offer our assistance.

Watchmen in a Lofty Tower

My second job after graduating from college was working for Chanel. Yes – the fashion company. I had majored in French and got my position as an assistant to the president because I would be answering many phone calls from France, and I needed to be prepared to launch into whichever language the caller preferred.

Anyway, one of my responsibilities was to cull through a stack of glossy magazines every morning until I found the Chanel ad. Then, I would place the open magazine on a stack in the president’s office for his review. (Now, if you’re thinking that this is beginning to sound like a job that’s a bit too simple for a college grad, you’ll be happy to know your line of thinking is right in line with mine. When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to hop departments, I took my perfume and cosmetic freebies, and a few heavily marked-down scarves and clothes, and politely scooted out of there in less than 6 months….but that’s another story.)

My point is this: at Chanel, we were selling a “look” and a “lifestyle.” Image truly was everything. Branding was the holy grail. Ad placement  was critical to success and to maintaining the consumers’ faith that our products were superior, favored by a certain class of people, and likely to help users fit into that social niche as well. This is what targeting sales to a particular group is all about. You want your buyers to feel they are “in.”

Fast forward twenty years. I don’t have a single Chanel cosmetic in my  home (I do have the scarves, I admit), but I’m still a consumer (and we all are) – just of a different sort. I don’t read many magazines…but here are the two currently on my coffee table:

image

I’m a sucker for these – Real Simple and Good Housekeeping. I even like the titles. I mean, really – who doesn’t want to “streamline your wardrobe and your space,” “get a discount on anything,” “clean anything,” find “great gifts,” have fun in the backyard, and make easy meals your kids will eat featuring roasted red peppers cut into star shapes???!!  Me?!!?  I’m doing all of this – this week!!

Right. Sanity break. Or mental break down.

So, why do I bring this all up? Well, those of you who read my blog regularly know that I write about my faith. And this morning, I was shuffling through the Word when I came across two passages which just really spoke to me. The first is this:

O Lord, our God, other lords than you have ruled us;

it is from you only that we can call upon your name. 

 – Isaiah 26:3

If we think we have “no other gods before Him” we are deceiving ourselves. How often have I allowed my desires to have the perfect home, wear just the right thing, or look a certain way to encroach upon or supersede entirely, God’s place of highest honor in my life and heart? This is a hard, hard question for me to face head on, because I have a long history of caring way too much about what others think of me. But I know that living like that, is living in chains.

The second passage is this one:

Every counselor points out a way, but some counsel ways of their own; Be on the alert when one proffers advice, find out first of all what he wants, For he may be thinking of himself alone; why should the profit fall to him? …

A man’s conscience can tell his situation better than seven watchmen in a lofty tower. Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet in the path of truth.

– Sirach 37: 7-8, 14-15

When I worked for Chanel, our offices were on the upper floors of a gleaming skyscraper overlooking Central Park in New York City. The taxicabs and buses below were miniature vehicles driving on gray lines around a green rectangle. Pedestrians resembled ants. From that vantage point, knowing we catered to an elite clientele, it certainly seemed like we were watchmen in a lofty tower.

But today I know – I don’t need watchmen – whether they’re conveying their counsel through magazines or over cups of coffee. Because, however well-intentioned or ‘fun’ it might be, the key for me is recognizing that I already have everything I need to make wise choices in my life. It’s about me, my conscience, and deepening my ongoing relationship with God.

Now that’s Real Simple.

What’s My Message?

I was making a left turn into the library, waiting for the long line of cars to pass, contentedly listening to the song on the radio, when my reverie was interrupted by something that caused my stomach to plummet into my abdomen. It was a vanity plate on a passing car.

“H8TNWRK”

Hating work. In a millisecond, my eyes shot up to the sulking man driving past. I pulled into the parking lot, just in time to watch a young mother joyfully kissing and smiling at her toddler as she snapped the child into her car seat. What opposites.

You might think I’m being overly sensitive here – that the man makes light of his life by putting it on a vanity plate, and hey – why shouldn’t he?  But I believe the mouth reveals what’s in our hearts, and I’m guessing this man’s discontent runs deep – that he’s very dissatisfied and probably doesn’t know why.  So I stopped right there in my car and thanked God for this man and the talents he’s been given, and asked that he be reminded that his gifts are meant to be avenues to joy. That somehow, he would see God in his life and through his work.

I went about my day but this man’s vanity plate has stayed with me. And I keep asking myself why it has. I think the answer is that like it or not, we all advertise something, and I’m concerned about my message.  I want it to be that I love God above all and am thankful to Him for all that I have. But I am flawed and I know it. I fail to remember my first love sometimes.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. 

– Psalm 19:15

image