No money? No money?
Updated: Jan 24
Dayenu Ministries’ first service project was creating Survival Kits for the homeless. We put a lot of thought into what items might be appreciated by individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Ultimately we decided on including the following: a pair of socks, deodorant, hand sanitizer, masks, toothpaste, toothbrush, lip balm, tissues, “shower wipes”, mints, granola bars, sanitary napkins for women and Bibles for those who expressed interest. We put all of this in clear, gallon-sized zip lock bags to keep it dry and easy to carry. Seems like a lot of good stuff, right? We hope that these items provide a little assistance & comfort, even if temporary, for those in need.
As you know by now, Darryl and I spend a lot of time at Rush Hospital in Chicago. We are here minimally two times each week. I’m actually writing this from the hospital now, while Darryl receives his weekly treatment. Rush is located downtown Chicago and we regularly see many homeless people on our way to and from the hospital. We have gotten to know Hilton, who is usually at the corner of Ashland & Van Buren. We also look forward to seeing Joy, who is usually stationed on Ogden & Lake. We try to bring Joy lunch or a snack most days. We usually distribute one to four Survival Kits or Snack Bags on each trip to or from Rush.
Generally speaking, the people receiving the bags are very appreciative. Not only for the food or toiletries, but for being seen and acknowledged. Many homeless people describe the experience of feeling invisable. Of people looking past them, avoiding eye-contact, not wanting an interaction with them.
When we leave the hospital, we are all prepared with our box full of Survival Kits and Snack Bags, ready to hand out to whoever we may encounter. At this point, we know all the spots for people we see regularly and we also keep an eye out for people we haven’t yet met.
Last week, we saw a man holding a sign and walking the line of cars at the intersection closest to the hospital. We hadn’t seen him before and wanted to make sure to give him a Survival Kit. So we slowed down, turned on our hazard lights, hoping not to annoy the cars behind us too much. I rolled down the window, held a bag out and said, “Here you go Sir. Have a good day!” He took the bag from me, kept walking, turned the bag over, looking at the contents and saying, “No money? No money?”
Darryl said, “Did he just say, ’no money’??” Yep. That’s what he said. I jokingly asked Darryl, ”Does that make you want to turn around & take the bag back?” “Yeah, it kind of does…” replied Darryl, perhaps not so jokingly.
I’ve thought a lot about that interaction since then. I’ve thought about gratitude for blessings. Even unmeritted or unexpected blessings. And I’ve thought about how often God probably experiances this type of response from us. “What…no money?”
God blesses each of us so richly every day. The fact that you have vision adequate enough to read this is a blessing. That you have been blessed with the intellect able to understand these words is a blessing. That you live in a part of the world where you were privileged enough to be taught to read is a blessing. That whatever device - computer, phone, tablet - in your possession, on which you are reading this, is a blessing.
And yet, how often are we breezing past these blessings. How often are we putting our hand out for something different, something more. DAYENU - it would have been enough - and yet God has done so much more.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I will all the more boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
This scripture haunted me for many years. Lurking behind me, peering over my shoulder, tapping me on the back, echoing in my mind. I didn’t want this scripture to by “my scripture” because while (I thought) I appreciated God’s grace, it actually wasn’t sufficient. I wanted more things, different things, than what I had been blessed with. I was flipping over the bag of blessings God had granted me, thinking, “No money?” (Not really money, guys, but you get the idea.) My life hadn’t taken the course I had hoped. It sure didn’t feel sufficient.
But that scripture kept gnawing at me, working on me, seeping into my thoughts. And ultimately I realized - I mean, I actually knew - that God’s grace was sufficient for me. I didn’t have an inherent right to experience those other things I’d hoped for and dreamed of. God had loved me and cared for me all along and blessed me with what I needed, and so much more than I deserved.
It was when I submitted to that teaching, that guess what? All of a sudden changes and experiences started opening up to me. Some of those very same things that I‘d been so hurt by not receiving earlier, started to become fulfilled in my life. Those things didn’t have to happen. But they did. God had been blessing me all along. But it was when I appreciated what I had, I mean truly appreciated what I had, that God blessed me with more.
So, let’s make sure not to hold our hands out to God seeking blessings, and when he blesses you, you say, ‘Wait…is this all?” Let’s work hard to never make God want to turn the car around and take the bag back.
Dayenu…it would have been enough.