Fishers UMC Blog

Twenty-Five Bucks and a Bag of Dog Chow

A guy walks into a church…

Nope, this isn’t the set-up for a joke; there’s no priest, rabbi or monk.  It’s the beginning of a story that often has a sad or at least a melancholy middle and end.  A guy walks into a church, and he desperately needs something; maybe it’s for his wife, his kids, his dog…  Sometimes it’s for himself, but usually it’s for someone for whom he has pledged to provide care.

Oftentimes, this guy walks into the Pantry, which is an incredible blessing, because THERE, we can give him what he needs.  We can nourish the soul, as well as the body, and do it so beautifully, so GRACE-fully, that he barely skips a beat.  He drives up, is welcomed into a comfortable place where he fills out a “grocery list” for the items he needs, and PRESTO!  Like magic, one or two of dozens of volunteers are there to pray with him, comfort him, help with the forms, AND give him groceries!  Not only are groceries provided, they are actually loaded into the car!  I know!  It seems too good to be true, but it IS true.  This is the story that ends happily, and I wish they all ended like that.

Sadly, not all stories end that way.

A guy walks into a church.  Sometimes he just shows up at the front door.  He doesn’t know exactly what he wants, he just knows he needs something.  This guy may be ill, he may be broke, or he may just be broken.  He probably doesn’t have access to things that the average American considers to be “everyday items…”  He probably has never had the luxury of putting on a golf shirt and khakis in the morning, to go in to a job that he complains endlessly about to anyone who will listen.  He probably doesn’t even own a golf shirt and khakis, and he likely doesn’t have a job.

Maybe this guy has a car or a truck; maybe it’s simply his vehicle, maybe it’s his home.  It’s cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and he doesn’t have the luxury of trading it in for a better one.  It’s difficult to buy gas, nearly impossible to pay for repairs, and insurance premiums are completely out of the question.  Maybe he has heard through one of numerous “grapevines” that Fishers UMC sometimes has $25 gas cards, and he’s hoping he’s fortunate enough to come at a time when we still have a few.  Sometimes we do.

Once in a very great while, a guy walks into a church with his significant other; they’re both dirty from life on the road, and they’re driving a beat-up van, that he admits someone gave to them.  All they really want is a bag of dog food for their dog – and maybe a tank of gas if that’s possible.  If the gas isn’t possible, that’s ok… they’ll make it.  They tell me they have faith; they’ve done it before.  But the pit bull in the back seat that they rescued from “fighters” needs some dog chow.  A lot of these people will actually feed their dog before they allow themselves to eat.  On this one incredible occasion, both the dog chow AND the gas card were available, and I’ve never seen a happier and more appreciative couple.

Twenty-five bucks and a bag of dog chow.  That almost sounds like the title to a bad country song.  But it was literally the theme of that day.

The thought of walking into a restaurant and sending back a meal because it’s too well done, or too salty, or not what he wanted, would never occur to this guy.  He would literally eat the scraps off of others’ plates without complaining.  “Pride” is not a word in his vocabulary.  On these occasions – when we are confronted with those who have nothing, and are asking for something – what do we do?  When these people show up, literally on our doorstep, what is the appropriate response?  What do we, as Christians, do to help? 

It’s really quite simple:  Deuteronomy 15:10 tells us, “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”  I think this one sentence tells us why it feels so good to give, and why we feel so richly rewarded.  Matthew 10:8 says, “…Freely you have received; freely give.”

I believe this sums it up nicely.  In the final analysis, the times we remember will be the times that we did as God calls each and every one of us to do.

A guy walks into a church…

What would you do?

Kim Manka
Administrative Assistant & Facility Scheduler
Posted by Kim Manka with

Good Things

Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite scriptures.  It reads “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  For me, I hear that God works in ALL things and that God can bring good from ALL things.  This passage comforts me when I hear about tragic events; or when someone I care about is hurting.  It reminds me that regardless how hopeless any situation may seem; we have reason to hope because God can make something beautiful; even from our biggest messes.

This passage also reminds me that the “things” I fill my life with – they matter.  Those things matter because God will be working in those things.  This letter was written to people who loved God and followed Jesus.  People like you and me.  This letter was written to people whose lives would have reflected this love in the “things” that filled their lives.

One of the best ways to understand what is important to someone is to learn what fills their time – what are their “things.”  When I read this passage; I think about the “things.”  What are the things of my life; those things that I expect God to be working in for good?  And do those “things” obviously reflect my love for God?  Do they obviously identify me as a Jesus-follower?

Each year as school begins my family makes decisions about what kinds of “things” will fill our lives; what are the activities we will be involved in; how much time will be needed for homework; how will we manage the household chores, etc.  We often have to decide between many good options because we live in a community that offers many good things – and it’s tough to decide sometimes.  But it’s important to give thought to what fills our lives because we want our lives to reflect our love for God; and we know that God works ALL things together for good for those who love God.

Jill Buckler
Pastor of Congregational Relations
Posted by Jill Buckler with

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