We set out to take NYC in three days. We had so much to take in! I carried a back pack for essentials...mophie to charge the phone, umbrella (forecasting rain), scarves (it might get colder), and of course...granola bars for an extra punch between meals. It became a running joke when others said they were hungry---I would say, "do you want a granola bar?" No time to stop! We might have one more thing to do before dinner. I guess you had to be there but just don't be surprised if one of us falls on the floor laughing when someone says, "you can have a coke or do you want a granola bar?"
By day three, we had covered the 9-11 memorial, 5th Avenue, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Central Park, two shows, China Town (along with a few side streets), Little Italy and several local eateries. Nine of us were out and knew it was getting close to midnight - the 3am shuttle would come early. So knowing we had covered it all, we began our journey back to our rooms. Unable to hail a taxi, and knowing we had money left on our subway cards, we journey down the first subway tunnel we pass.
Dark and isolated is an understatement. Maybe we should have paid closer attention. Who knew a journey down an old, musky subway hall would leave such a mark? Worn out, rushing down the passageway are nine naive South Georgia moms and daughters. We are alone except for one weary eyed, tattered and torn man. All of those ahead of me rushed by him. He is holding a sign begging for money so he can eat. One step past him, I am convicted to step back. I pause along with my ten year old and begin to dig in the backpack....remember the granola bars? That box had been hauled all over NYC so now was time to depart from this iconic box that had taken on a life of its own...btw, do you want a granola bar? OK, you are right...you had to be there. Back to the man. I take out the box and offer it to him. After all, I was cashless at this point (ummm...a female in NYC for three days, of course I was!).
I was feeling so proud inside...I mean I am going to feed the poor, right? Isn't this what Jesus would do? Well, maybe the pride was why the story went the way it did. Those empty, blood shot eyes filled with rage and looked at me as if he could see through me. With a strong tone in his voice, he tells me no...he wants money. Of course, I am a social worker so I can convince him granola bars are just as good, right? He tells me his teeth are rotten so he cannot eat them. Am I seriously debating a homeless man? Well, yes. I explain I have no cash. He reaches for something. For a minute, I swallow the lump in my throat glancing at my 7 friends who are far ahead and looking at me as if I had lost my mind (again). What is he reaching for? I urge my daughter to go ahead and she moves on to the safe place...the 7 other gals. My heart racing, not sure what to expect. He pulls out....nope, not what you are thinking....but a phone. He tells me he can take my credit card. Trying hard not to laugh out loud, I say, "you're not very hungry." I drop the box of granola bars by him in case he wises up and I go on. I was saddened by the rejection but I never look back. The offer for food stood long after I left.
I have no idea what the man did. I do know I didn't give him my credit card. However, if he really got hungry, he had food to eat. He just had to choose to eat it. He had to open the box and take the food out. He may truly have rotten teeth but if he was hungry, maybe he could gnaw the food or wet it in a bathroom to make it palatable. Either way, he could satiate the hunger if he wanted to. I will never know the outcome but I had no regrets. I didn't let his rejection end my offer.
Wow...what a long story to get to this....the world is a place hungry for God. Sometimes people are in such need, they don't know what it is they are longing for. It is up to us to share the gospel even if we do not reap the harvest.
John 4:35-38 tells us
"I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."
Somebody had to sow the seed before the harvest came in. Sharing the gospel is sowing seeds. Sometimes, we will offer God's word and message to people to simply get rejected. Other times, people will accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. Regardless, our message cannot change. Jesus came to the world to feed the hungry souls...to offer salvation. Sometimes we plant seeds and don't know the outcome. It is ok. We leave the tools behind, God will do the rest. Drop that box wherever you are. Even if it is uncomfortable!
Luke 10 2He told them,“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."
8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This means your town, your state and, yes, all the world. Don't forget the first part of this. I have served in foreign missions, so don't get me wrong, I do have a heart for foreign missions. But, people need the gospel right where you are. There will most likely not be a missionary at your place of employment tomorrow, at the grocery store with you or walking your streets. Wait! Yes, there will be. Who? You!
The harvest is plentiful right where you are. Carry out the Great Commission.... It is ok if you don't know the outcome. I have been blessed to see my seeds reap a harvest an abundant amount of times...those are some happy times. But I have also been ignored, mocked and ridiculed when I have shared my faith. It doesn't stop me. Don't let it stop you!
THE GREAT COMMISSION
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youalways, to the very end of the age.”
Where are we to take this message? Wherever you are! People are hungrier than you think! (Do you want a granola bar?!)