Monday, April 11, 2016

Lessons from Sam: Hunger and the Importance of Having Enough

Yesterday (April 10th) was Sam Wiley's birthday. As you may remember, he is my much-loved neighbor. This was Sam's first birthday since his wife died, so we spent a good bit of the day together. 

After church, we walked through the azaleas and reminisced about all the years we've planted azaleas together. We'd plant as many as one hundred azaleas each spring. (Those were mainly the years when we found them on sale for $1 apiece because we are both frugal.) 

As you might imagine, it took a while to get all those azaleas in the ground, but it was worth it to us because we love spring. We love flowers. We love azaleas.

We spent some time talking about life and growing older, and I thought the lessons he shared were worth passing along. (You can expect a few more lessons from Sam this week.)

Sam was born in 1930. His father contracted TB while he was in the army, and he received a check every month for $50 from the government because of it. 

I complained that $50 seemed a pitifully small amount for such a dreadful disease, but Sam said the $50 saved his family. That meager amount made the difference between food in their bellies and hunger. "We never had to go hungry."

When he was ten years old, they moved from Center to Blue Springs. They loaded everything they owned into a four-wheeled wagon, hitched it to the mules, and moved to a farm. 

The family had ten acres that they share-cropped there. That was as much as they could farm with only two mules and just two sons still at home, but it was enough. Sam and his brother worked the land. Fifty percent of all they grew went to the landowner. That seemed like a lot to me, but Sam said not, because it still left them enough. They never went hungry. 

"We was just coming out of the Great Depression. I don't reckon it could've been any worse than it was, because it was bad. We didn't have nothing. Nobody ever told us we was poor, because they didn't have any more than we did. No one did. 

"You know, we didn't have much of anything, but we was happy because we had enough."

Sam and his family had food to eat, a roof over their head, and two mules to work the land. He looks back on those years with thanksgiving. He told me several times that he was never hungry, and I realized later that not being hungry was quite an accomplishment. 

Sam and his family were content. They didn't worry about having the latest car or a fancy suit or a pretty dress. His sisters didn't worry about having their nails done or getting a pedicure or having highlights in their hair. They worried about putting food on the table and, when they had food, they were concerned that it would be enough. It always was.

We're not talking steak or lobster. They ate cornbread and peas. Vegetables they grew in the garden. Pork from the hog they raised and slaughtered and preserved. Sometimes they had meat and sometimes they didn't. 

You may have noticed that several words were repeated over and over again. "Enough. "Never hungry". If you've never been hungry, you may not understand the importance of those words, but Sam does.

Sam understands priorities. He knows what matters and what doesn't. Food on the table matters. Going to a fancy restaurant to get the food doesn't. A change of clothes matters. A closet full of clothes doesn't. 

We've lost the perspective on priority that Sam has, and we are poorer for it. We've lost the sense of family and interdependence that his family had. They needed each other to survive, they worked together to make it happen, and they didn't complain. 

Paul wrote to young Timothy about the importance of contentment and the snare of seeking wealth. We'd do well to listen to his words and take heed.

"But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction." 1 Timothy 6:6-9 nasb

Today, let's take a close look at all the wealth we've accumulated and give thanks to the Lord for His great generosity to us. As we sit down to tables laden with food, let's remember Sam's words, "We never went hungry," and give thanks with a grateful heart for the bounty of the food God has provided. 

Let's look outside our own homes, too. There are people in need all around the world. There are still people who are hungry. We can do something about that, if we will. So let's do it. In the name of Jesus, let's reach out our hand and our hearts. Let's love our neighbors as we do ourselves. 

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" Matthew 25:40 nasb

We've had a great response to the new Bible study starting May 1, but there's still time to sign up. It will be an online course and those who sign up will have a link to access it. (It will not be posted as part of this blog.)  This 12-week study of Hosea is designed to teach the participants to dig out truth for themselves.

In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Trappings of Religion

#Mondaymotivation #GoodMonday #Jesus #content