At first, I began creating a list in my head of things we do - sponsor children, missions trips, giving a $20 to the odd homeless dude... But my heart cried out to my mind, "Are only the poor in need?! Who are the least of these?" And I was reminded of something I like to do occasionally...
In my twelve years as a mother of young children, there have been a few days that shine as precious gems in my memory. The friend who insisted on watching my children - frequently - while I struggled with post-partum depression. My mom, who was always willing to do whatever was needed (and still is), be it childcare, housework, yard work. The girlfriend who, while here visiting for a coffee, insisted on helping fold laundry. The teachers and bus driver who delivered a massive box of meals following the birth of another addition. The mysterious $100 gift card slipped into my church mailbox. The friends and family who cared for my kids and brought food as I helped care for another. The list goes on!
Am I in need? I mean, truly, desperately in need? Not like sweet Engeline, Charles, and Berwa, our sponsor children. Not like our friends and ministry partners in Haiti. Not like the bedraggled man wearing snowmobiling coveralls to keep from freezing while he sleeps on the cold, winter streets of Alberta. Yet for some reason, God saw fit to bless me through the love of those around us. And some days - during those lonely, aching days of isolated motherhood - those blessings were all I had to cling to.
I may not have enough money to ever feed enough children to stop starvation. I may not have enough boldness to pack up my whole family and move to a third world country. I may not always have a stray bill in my purse that can provide whatever a desperate man needs to keep himself alive.
But I do often have a few free hours where I'm sitting at home doing nothing more than endless piles of laundry. What's one or two more kids for those few hours? I frequently have enough food to make two meals instead of one. Every now and then I've got an extra bit of money at the grocery store, which I could choose to spend on a gift card instead of potato chips.
Are the people I see day in and day out "the least of these?" Maybe, some days, as they repeat the endless cycle of mothering and homemaking, they feel like less than nothing. I know I did. Occasionally still do. Caring for little ones is not an easy job, and not all that rewarding - sometimes us mommas feel lower than low. I remember that feeling when I see it written on the face of another. Perhaps we all walk roads and times of being the least, less than, and lower so that we can be ministered to, and in turn, minister to those who come after us.
Sometimes, caring for the least of these is no farther than going next door and sharing a cup of coffee, a smile, and a few encouraging words.