I can safely say that I have never woken up and wondered if I would eat that day. On the contrary, I have woken up and wondered what I would eat in the next thirty minutes, but never whether or not I would eat at all.
When we were in Nepal with Tiny Hands International and as I’ve read countless books on justice, poverty, and human trafficking, I’ve heard stories of mothers preparing porridge thickened with dirt, rotten potatoes, and boiled weeds. I’ve read of children who were so famished, they would swallow stones in a desperate attempt to put something – anything – in their empty bellies.
How do I remember? How do I keep this reality in front of me when I live in a country in which 35% of the population is classified as overweight?
I’m keeping my bowls and baskets empty.
As God has taken me to various parts of the world, I have purchased bowls unique to the area. I’m not usually a bowl person. I wasn’t even sure what I’d do with these bowls. I think each one is beautiful in its own way, so I’ve set them around the house and looked for things that I might put in them. Last week, I scoured the aisles of Hobby Lobby in the hope of finding that perfect “something.” Seriously, I can always find SOMETHING at Hobby Lobby, but this time I came up with nothing. I was dialoguing with Jesus as I dusted my empty bowls one more time before yesterday’s graduation party and I asked, “Lord, what on earth am I supposed to put in these bowls and baskets?”
“Nothing,” came the sweet, whispered reply. “Keep them empty, so that you remember all the empty bowls in the world.”
[Tweet “Keep your decorative bowls empty, Remember the world’s empty bowls. #justice #hungry”]
Mercy, I take so much for granted. I sit here now with my cup of white mocha creamer laced coffee, in my comfy chair, with my children enjoying a slow morning in front of the TV after a full weekend, and it’s easy to forget that there are people waking up whose first thoughts aren’t what they will eat for breakfast. In fact, I suspect they don’t even wonder if they will eat, as they already know the answer. Suddenly, it’s hard to swallow that last mouthful of extravagance.
Guilt isn’t the answer to the empty bowls. I know this, so I go to Jesus in prayer about the empty bowls. I ask Him to meet the needs of the hungry and to use me as He sees fit. He says,
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them.
“No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry,
and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.”
He reminds me that the bowl purchased in Pokhara, Nepal, was crafted by women who have been rescued from or avoided human trafficking and are now being empowered to safely earn an income to support their families. He reminds me that I didn’t have to go all the way to Nepal to make a difference. I went to the Freedom Boutique section of our local Christian Bookstore and purchased a basket made by women in Uganda whose baskets are now sold with other fairtrade products by SERRV. Making purposeful purchases IS doing something.
We are having a garage sale in two weeks with all the proceeds going to Tiny Hands International. Last week, a friend of mine asked if all of our unsold items might be donated to her garage sale at which all the proceeds will go to Feed My Starving Children. Ummm … YES! We can sell our surplus – and perhaps even sell things that we “need” now and then in order to bless those who truly know the meaning of need. This summer our family will volunteer at a Feed My Starving Children event.
There is so much we can DO right from our own backyards. We only have to ask God to help us remember the empty bowls around the world, then ask Him what He wants us to DO. Then DO it.
So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah.
Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days.
The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry,
according to the word of the Lord He had spoken through Elijah.
1 Kings 17:15-16