Wanna do something really fun and rewarding?!
My family of wife, two daughters, two husbands, and five grandchildren (all girls) decided to get together for lunch this past Easter. What a blessing!
So, the day before, at the upward soccer games in which my grands play, my oldest daughter turns to me and says, “When we sit down to eat lunch tomorrow, I will break a three day fast.”
Amazing. She looked so normal.
I had dabbled in fasting, but it had been at least 100 years. Okay, that’s an exaggeration; more like 90.
Anyhoo, fasting is when, you know, we deny ourselves food. On purpose. I know! It’s crazy.
But we’re asked to do this sometimes by medical folks such as when we’re going in for a full blood screen. It’s called a fasting lab. And then there’s the big procedure when you turn 50 where you have to fast for a whole day before the appointment but that’s okay because you have to drink this medicine and spend the whole day in the bathroom and really don’t have time to eat. And really don’t want to….
And we’re kinda asked to do this as Christ followers. Okay, it is suggested that we do this. Because Jesus had a lot to say about fasting. He said when you fast don’t have “faster’s face” cause then everyone will know and you’ll get your reward from them instead of Him. And he also talked about fasting when he came down the mountain where he’d been hanging out with a couple of dudes who had been dead a long time.
He encountered a father there with a boy possessed by a demon. The rest of the disciples couldn’t cast the demon out. Later, after the boy was well and everyone had gone to their homes and places of business (think Barney Fife), they asked Jesus why they couldn’t give that demon the boot. And he encouraged them to cut themselves some slack because that kind could only come out through prayer and fasting.
I had wished my daughter had told me she was fasting before Easter so I could have joined her. In my dismay, I decided to get ahead of the next one and suggested we fast the three days before Pentecost.
So, on Sunday, my wife took me to a local restaurant for which we had a gift card, which is how we make most of our spending choices, to break my fast. And the entire thing was a huge lesson.
Now, I had allowed myself liquids…milk, juice, sprite, water, and of course, coffee. And then some more coffee. But I hadn’t had any solid food since Wednesday night when I purposely consumed probably 4500 calories as a farewell to food. It was a pity gorging.
But here I was, about to break this foolishness with real solid food, prepared by someone else! And the lessons began.
Diners were all around me, and so was a lot of food. Our waitress had greeted us, brought us water, and taken our order. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the clock in my brain had started.
My wife faced the kitchen and I sat across from her. We chatted and whenever her eyes left mine, I wondered with deep anticipation if our food was coming.
I finally told my wife we should pray when our food hit the table because if we didn’t, I might just behave like an animal. So, when my plate did reach the table, I bowed my head over it and thanked Jesus for the fast, for the food, and his many other blessings.
And with tears in my eyes, I felt overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to eat.
This experience has deeply informed what I do as a director of a food pantry. If you work with us, or support us, I highly encourage you to skip a meal, or three, or nine. Skip enough so that when you do finally eat, you have been reacquainted with hunger, and a deep appreciation for the gift of eating.
It will change the way you think about food, eating, hunger, people, and especially, hungry people.
We served, ninety families today. The door closed at 130, but the serving didn’t end till 200.
At one point, a volunteer was in front of me. “Mike, I just have to take this lady to her place which I don’t even think is a home and I want to get her something to eat because she’s mad, mad at the world, and it just breaks my heart and feel like I just have to do this.”
It just all streamed out of her like that magician’s trick where ribbon just seems to flow from his mouth.
I looked through those eyes right into a heart that feels and loves, like all of ours do, and said, “We don’t do that, but yes, go, take this lady home.”
We set limits on what we can offer our clients. And I love when our volunteers just can’t keep themselves within the limits.
It’s been two months since Feed the Need, our annual community-wide food drive, for which we are most grateful. On that day, most of the donation had to be put into a Covington property warehouse since ours just couldn’t hold it all.
Now, nine weeks later, all of the food is in our place. I can hardly believe how much of it is already gone. We’ve tracked our giving by pounds per family and if those numbers hold for today, I can say we gave out 3474 pounds of food before I total it up.
On Monday, we’ll receive an order from the Arkansas Food Bank and we’ll spend almost $900 on it.
“Food Insecurity” is a term we use for the likelihood of a person not having access to the number of good calories required for good health. If you are interested in food insecurity in Faulkner Country, this is a good place to begin:
In case you don’t have time to check that out, let me just tell you that 2017 statistics indicate there were 19,680 people in our county facing food insecurity. That was 16.2% of the county. Of that number, a little over half are at or under the poverty line.
Here is what may be the most shocking and soul wrenching number. The annual food budget shortfall is $10,149,000.
As they say in the world of statistics, “That’s a lot of coin.”
That website also says the average meal cost is $3.02. And it might be so, but a donation of equal amount to the Storehouse would allow us to purchase almost 17 pounds of food; nearly twice what a person leaves with on serve day.
And there are a few hundred of those 19,680 people in the county who depend on your donation to help them make it through the month.
Thanks for all you do for our clients!
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org for all things "Volunteer".
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