Contentment and Thanksgiving

I just have to share this little story with you. I’m not sharing it to pin a gold star on me or to sing my own praises, but to show you the circle of kindness and what this week of Thanksgiving is all about.

I lead a Bible study with some friends at work on Tuesdays. This particular session, we are going through “What Matters Most” by Karen Ehrman. Today’s video lesson was on contentment. There was so much gold in this lesson, but a couple of tidbits I wrote down were these — “Contentment is born out of gratefulness, and there is always someone who is worse off than you so do something to make their day brighter.”

It made me think back to an hour earlier when I had to make a trip to the post office downtown. Parking is sparse so I had to park half a block away. As I was walking to the post office, I rounded the corner of First Ave and Twelfth Street. There sat a man in a wheelchair. He was bundled up and I noticed he was missing his left foot. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Happy Thanksgiving, Ma’am!” I smiled back and returned his greeting and continued on.

On my way back I noticed he was still sitting there. A few steps away another man was walking towards me. He looked at me and said, “ Hello ma’am, would you happen to have a few dollars so a homeless man can get some lunch?” I thought about how blessed I am. I remembered that I did have some cash. I don’t always give money out on the spot like that, but I felt a tugging in my heart.

I asked him where he planned on eating and he said “I reckon CJs,” which is there on the corner. I reached in my wallet and pulled out a sawbuck. Then I looked at the man in the wheelchair and asked where he would be eating Thanksgiving Dinner. He said he would be making his way to the Salvation Army for a meal. I reached in my wallet and pulled out another ten for him and said “have some lunch today on me.”

The first man was almost opening the door at CJs when I handed the guy in the wheelchair some money too. To my surprise he walked away, came up to the other man and asked, “Would you like for me to wheel you inside for lunch?”

I don’t know these two men’s stories other than right now they have hit some hard times. What I do know is the man in the wheelchair gave me the kindest greeting as I rounded the corner, and that put a smile on my face. The second man put another smile on my face when he offered to help the man inside the restaurant. I hope the restaurant gave them a good deal and they had a good lunch for ten bucks each.

I do have a couple of regrets though and wish I could start that encounter over — 1) I regret not asking their name because they need to be known as more than the homeless man and the man in the wheelchair. I do know this – God knows their names AND He knows their story and loves them!! 2) I regret not sharing my faith with them and asking where they stood with Christ. God gives me perfect opportunities sometimes to share the good news with others and I completely blow it and don’t even realize it until hours later!!

As you are sitting in your warm house tonight, take a moment to thank God for the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, your health and the food on your table. Then say a prayer that God will watch over those two men tonight, keep them warm, fill their bellies tomorrow and each passing day, send someone their way to encourage them and open a door that they can have shelter. Be grateful for what you have, live a life of contentment and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

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