Never Poor

I’ve lived under a bridge in the back of a pickup truck and washed myself and my clothes in the river, but I’ve never been poor.

I’ve lived in an open-sided garden shed with no indoor toilet or plumbing, sleeping on wooden planks on top of concrete blocks with a lawn chair mattress on top, but I’ve never been poor.

I’ve lived in my pickup truck, using cold water from a garden hose to wash my hair and public bathrooms for washing my face, under my arms, and my private parts, but I’ve never been poor.

To me, “poor” is a label written in a foreign language. How can one be poor when they are free? How can one be poor when flowers splash the path with beauty and stars fill the nighttime sky with wonder? How can one be poor with clothes on the back—even though not designer labels—and food in tummy—even though not preferred?

I love Irving Berlin’s musical “Annie Get your Gun.” Like the lyrics in one of the songs, no matter how “poor” I’ve ever been, I’ve always had a healthy balance on the credit side: “Got no mansion, got no yacht, still I’m happy with what I’ve got; I’ve got the sun in the morning and the moon at night. Sunshine gives me a lovely day; moonlight gives me the Milky Way.”

And even if I were to live in a concrete drainage pipe instead of a bridge—a place where the sun didn’t shine during the day and moonlight didn’t gladden at night—my future is living in Heaven with Jesus. Heaven is a place with no sin, no sorrow, no illness, no pain, no death, no parting. And once one has the gift of eternity living inside them—no one and nothing can steal it or take it away.

“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22

I’m not poor. I’m blessed.

Year Without Fear

As we journey through 2016, it’s a good resolve to live the New Year without fear. There are 365 “fear not”s in the Bible, one for every day of the year.

When I arrived in Scotland from Texas four years ago I was told “Don’t talk about your Christian faith openly because UK folk are reserved and expect others to act with the same restraint. Advice I ignored.

Four years later I have told countless people, “God bless.” I have stopped to pray with complete strangers. I have exclaimed repeatedly, “Praise Jesus! A beautiful day!” I’ve suffered only two verbal rebukes, one from a woman who said she wished I hadn’t asked God to bless her, and one from a person who informed me, “We don’t want any of your American Fundamentalism over here.”

Had I blindly accepted the advice to keep quiet, I would have missed both blessings and opportunities to share God’s blessings with others. God has provided occasions to pray with others for healing; the healing of pets, recovery from alcoholism, rescue from depression, mending after the loss of a loved one.

Fearing what people might say or think above what God had directed would have robbed the past four years of meaning and blessing.

There are other ways to walk in God’s love. The Christian walk is a designer walk. Tell the maintenance person he or she is doing a good job. Thank the post person. Thank the folks who come to pick up the garbage. Compliment a person on his or her parenting skills. Commend a teacher for a job well done. Tell the cashier to have a lovely rest of the day. Smile. If words freeze between the brain and the lips…just smile.

Live the New Year without fear. Smile! A smile is the same in every language, easily given and almost always returned.

chapel at night