Feeling Salty?

Wearing frayed clothes, an old man with a scraggly beard approached the eclectic restaurant patio where I sat with my two grown sons. Shaded from the summer sun, we were the only customers out there on a Sunday afternoon.

My body stiffened. He’s going to ask for money.

The man shuffled past us, opened the screen door, and went inside. He returned with a coffee mug and sat down at the table next to us.

My body relaxed, but my mind remained on guard. He stared at us with red-rimmed, glassy eyes. Sometimes he mumbled beneath his breath.

I went inside and asked the young waitress if the man had ordered food.

“No, he only has three dollars.”

“Would you mind asking him if he’d like to order a meal? You can put it on my tab. I’d ask him, but I don’t want to embarrass or offend him.”

She smiled. “That’s nice of you.”

I wasn’t trying to be nice. I’m reluctant to share my story. Don’t want someone to think I’m patting myself on the back. Not the case.

I was being obedient.

How could I attend church that morning—hear God’s Word—and NOT reach out to someone in need? Someone within arm’s reach who had an empty belly; hunger in his soul.

The waitress brought a menu to the man and whispered in his ear.

He mumbled, “Missing teeth.”

She helped him choose something edible. Then brought him a plate of soft rolls to eat while he waited for his meal.

He guzzled his coffee; devoured the rolls.Then he took his mug inside and left the restaurant without glancing in our direction.

Within seconds, the waitress brought our food. Her right arm had a sleeve tattoo. “I offered to put his food in a to-go box, but he didn’t want to wait. So I canceled the order.”

“Perhaps the bread filled him up,” I said. “Or maybe I should have approached him myself so he didn’t feel awkward.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it. You tried.”

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Yes, I tried to do the right thing—be salt and light. To the man, and young woman too.

I wondered if either of them knew Jesus—the Bread of Life. The One who feeds our souls. 

If not, had they heard the gospel? How did they perceive Christians?

Oh, Lord, don’t let my salt lose its flavor. (Luke 14:34)

And yet, while my sons and I were eating, the topic of same-sex marriage came up. Immediately, my neck hairs bristled as I thought about “those people.”

Until the Spirit hit me with a two by four:

You have no trouble showing compassion to an indigent person whom you know nothing about. What if a gay couple sat near you? 

Would you still choose to be salt and light? 

If not, why not?

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“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13,14)

What About My Needs?

There are Naked Ladies in my garden, soaking up the August sunshine.

When I see them, I think of the Lord’s Prayer.

Naked Ladies are also called Belladonna Lilies. They earned their nickname due to their leafless long stems that produce funnel-shaped flowers in late summer.

What do Naked Ladies have to do with the Lord’s Prayer?

Yesterday while I dug shallow holes for these plants, it occurred to me …

Plants like my Naked Ladies need four things to survive: water, oxygen, sunlight, soil.

According to the Lord’s Prayer, these are my needs.

Bread

Forgiveness

Deliverance 

What about Marriage? Children? Success? Wealth?

Sorry, these aren’t mentioned in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).

This passage, simple enough for a child to memorize, packs a deadly punch….to my egocentric heart.

Even the words preceding this prayer humbles me.

“Lord, teach us to pray.”

The disciples didn’t assume, they wanted to know how to pray.

“Lord, teach us to pray” …. is a prayer in itself.

A challenge for me to come before God with a teachable heart and one request. “Lord, teach me to pray.”  

I don’t want my prayers to resemble a laundry list of perceived needs for myself and others. 

I don’t want to be a taskmaster, telling God what I want fixed, finished, and furnished. And make it quick. 

Even when I praise God’s attributes, thank Him for my blessings, and ask Him to forgive my sins….

There is still too much of me, and too little of God in my prayers. 

HE should have turned me into a pillar of salt long ago.

But instead, the Lord teaches me to pray while I kneel in the dirt, head bowed beneath a canopy of oak trees…an earthly sanctuary where His Prayer convicts and fills my heart anew.

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“Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed by YOUR Name

YOUR kingdom come,

YOUR will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Hmm, this prayer is all about God. What about ME: My reputation, My life, My will? My needs?

“Give us today, our daily Bread

And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Bread

Forgiveness

Deliverance

There are other prayers in the Bible, other needs addressed.

But, when the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

Our Father was the prayer Jesus taught them.

I need to pray likewise, and be thankful when God meets these needs!