– For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..
As I have walked each day I have asked God to give me a heart of compassion, and to fill my heart with a love for others. This past week he showed me what that really means, and in a way that I will not soon forget.
After camping next to the small church on the hill I awoke to a warm, sunny day. I laid there enjoying the warmth for a little while, and then I broke camp and began walking towards Tularosa. The majority of the walk was downhill, and by early afternoon I had walked the eleven or so miles into town. As I walked I asked God once again for a shower, a good place to stay, a place to do my laundry and for a good meal…
It was a beautiful day and Patti Riley and Jim Hearn (Jim is Patti’s uncle) didn’t realize I was behind them and gaining fast until I was almost on top of them. I was walking at a pretty good pace, and having a long stride really helps me cover some ground. As I passed them Patti read my sign and asked me where I had come from. We started talking, and when I asked them about a place to camp in town they said they didn’t know of one, and then almost immediately asked me if I would like to stay at their apartment that night. What followed is an example to us all of the way God wants us to treat others, and was a reminder to me of my own shortcomings when in comes to helping others in need.
We made a quick stop at a local store for a few supplies, and then together we walked back to their apartment. They helped me unpack my cart, showed me upstairs to a room, helped me get comfortable, and then while I took a shower they prepared dinner for us. After dinner Patti did my laundry for me, and told me just to make myself at home and relax. We then discussed my plans for walking to the next town and on to Las Cruces. It turned out that due to road construction and the White Sands Missile Base walking to Las Cruces was pretty much out of the question. I was stuck, and I once again asked God for a ride.
The next day Patti told me I would just have to stay with them until we found a solution, and promptly began calling around to see if she could find me a ride. A short while later she agreed to pay a friend to take me the hour and a half drive into Las Cruces. Because he wasn’t going there until the following Saturday they insisted that I spend the week with them, and proceeded to treat me like royalty the entirety of my visit.
Every morning Jim would fix my coffee for me and bring it to me, all the while telling me to relax and enjoy my time off. Patti would then fix us breakfast (she is an excellent cook) and I would have all I could eat. Lunch and dinner followed the same pattern, and I enjoyed some truly tasty Southwestern dishes. They catered to me in every way, and refused to let me do anything to help, regardless of how often I asked. Patti even laundered my sleeping bag, my pillows and my blanket for me.
While I was there they took me into town and showed me around, not allowing me to pay for anything. A couple of days before I left Jim helped me do minor repairs to my cart, and before long we had it cleaned up, repaired and ready to go. I even got a great haircut from Patti the day before leaving. Every evening we enjoyed good conversation, and on several occasions I had the privilege of talking to them about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
During my stay there one evening really stood out to me. I had spent the afternoon upstairs at Patti’s desk, writing blogs, reading the bible, and updating my website. Without my noticing dinner time arrived, and when I got up to go downstairs Jim told me to stay put, and the next thing I knew a small table appeared next to the desk I was working at, full of food and something to drink. He said they didn’t want to interrupt what I was doing, and told me if I needed anything else to let them know. Later on, after the dishes had been taken downstairs, Jim reappeared with a desert from Patti.
Folks, think about this for a minute. Not only did they open their doors and make their home available to a complete stranger, they fed me, let me take showers, supplied for all of my needs while I was there, and gave me additional groceries and so much more, all without accepting any type of payment in return. They also paid for a ride for me to Las Cruces, because walking there was just out of the question.
What I haven’t told you is that they are going through a difficult financial time, and they may soon have to move so Patti can find stable employment. In spite of all of the difficulties they are going through they are still following God’s commandment to treat others as you would want to be treated. Patti and Jim, thank you so much for all you did for me, and for showing me what it means to serve others and to care for their needs before your own. As I continuing walking I will pray that God will provide for your every need, and that he will provide Patti with a great job that she will enjoy working at. I will also ask him to give me a servant’s heart as big as yours.
As I close this blog I would ask each and every one of you what you are doing to follow God’s commandment. We are surrounded by those in need, be they the homeless, the widowed, orphans, or those without enough food or enough money to pay their power bills. How many things do we have sitting around the house we don’t really need or use, things that we could sell and then use the proceeds from to provide for those less fortunate than ourselves.
God doesn’t ask us to judge others, only to help them. So many times I’ve heard folks say, “Well, I don’t give the homeless money because they will probably just use my money to buy booze”. In many cases we use that as an excuse to just do nothing. The truth is it makes us uncomfortable, and we don’t like being out of our comfort zones.
Okay, then don’t give them any money, just use the money to buy them a meal, or to purchase them a pair of shoes or a shirt. There are so many ways we can help others in need, we just have to have a willing heart. God gave his Son to die for our sins, undeserving as we are, and the very least we can do is help others and tell them about Jesus.
Giving to others will not only help them, it will do wonders for you as well. Without exception when I’ve been able to help others my spirit has lifted, and I have walked with joy in my heart. I encourage you to do just one thing each week to help a complete stranger in need. God will bless you for it, and you will be a blessing to others at the same time.
Once I reach Las Cruces I will try to update my blog once again. Please pray that God will continue to protect me and provide for me as I continue with my walk. Also pray that he will provide me with a way to help others. As you have read God continues to answer your prayers, and I am so thankful. Until the next time…
Always Onward I Walk,