Return to Sender

I had an all-too-typical experience yesterday.

A young woman whom I’d never met stopped by our office and asked to speak to me.  She said she had four kids, and that one of them had cancer.  She and her husband had tried to buy a house in the area, but had been cheated out of seven thousand dollars, depleting their savings.  They had decided to relocate to Tennessee to an area where they felt confident they would be better off.  Oh, and one more thing.  None of their family members were speaking to them so they couldn’t approach them for help.

After listening to her story, I said, “So what are you asking me?”  (Because she hadn’t yet asked me a question.)

She said, “Could your church pay our moving expenses to Tennessee?”

I said no, explaining to her that she would be talking about quite a large sum of money.  I said that there were quite a few smaller things we could do for her family, but that paying their moving expense was out of the question.  Our church simply did not have the resources to provide such services for people.

That’s when it got interesting.

She said, “We used to go to church in Tennessee, and I can promise you that our pastor up there, if he saw someone in need like we are, he would reach into his own pocket and meet that need if the church didn’t have the money.”

I said, “It’s wonderful that you know someone like that.  I would suggest you give him a call.”

She explained that he’d recently had a death in the family and she didn’t want to bother him during such a difficult time.

Then she turned on the tears.

Again, I offered some smaller services: prayer, food, gas money, etc.  She threw up her hands and said with an angry tone, “Why do churches all offer prayer and food?  Don’t they know that what people need is money?”

The conversation ended with her telling me how uncaring I was and stomping out the door in a huff.

I immediately ran outside and looked up at the front of our church building.  I thought perhaps someone had put a bank sign up there without telling me!

I heard it said one time that some people will go through their entire lives and never feel blessed because there’s only one kind of blessing they recognize: money.  Offer them anything else and they feel slighted, even offended.  I sensed that young woman was just such a person, and I felt bad for her.

I picture a gigantic storage area in heaven with trillions of boxes of blessings stacked to the ceiling, all stamped with the words, “Return to Sender.”  The woman I met yesterday probably has quite a few boxes in there with her name and address on them.

Do you?

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6 Responses to Return to Sender

  1. Robert Szoke says:

    had a similar incident. Since we are urban location, I said, “if I were looking for financial assistance, I’d go somewhere else, this community is broke, high unemployment, lots of people barely making it.” I then added, “there’s a pawn shop just down the block. I bet if you go there, you could lawn that bracelet you are wearing to get you where you need to go.” After careful thought he said,”I couldn’t do that.” We gave him a ride to another community where the churches appear to have more than we do.

    • Mark says:

      Sounds pretty typical, Robert. I’ve also asked people what they have to sell or pawn to help themselves through a hard time. You’re right, they almost never want to do that. They’d rather you give them money.

  2. Robert Dale says:

    God does expect us to use wisdom in dealing with individuals and their financial problems. Some times it’s more advantageous to the person to provide ideas that will solve the immediate problem. (Moving) this does not necessarily require money, perhaps 1 man and a truck will solve the problem. I agree with your comments on Immediate provision of food, clothing etc. The Holy-Sirit does speak specifically to us to do certain things at particular times for specific individuals, however we must remember that the need of the individual is not necessarily the call of God for us to FIX their problem.
    Mark I have just finished reading The Solomom Seduction a powerfully provoking piece. Thank you for your salient comments and forthright opinions on Sin management.
    Robert Dale

  3. Kim Goad says:

    Ooh–this one was very convicting for me! Was just complaining to myself about something and you helped me to see what a blessing it actually is! Great as always, Mark!

  4. Sir. What your desk has seen? A book could not hold all the details. But since you’re a praying man I am glad the cream rises to the top and whatever else just goes down the drain. Don’t they know a man of God knows the God who knows all things. Good message again. Thank you. Respectfully yours, Chris

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