MASTER OR SLAVE?

By Lisa Huddleston

I know I talk about my dog too much.  My cats, too.  Yes, I put their pictures on Facebook and believe everyone will get a warm fuzzy out of an especially cute expression or awkward position on the back of the couch.  So sue me.  Animals are people, too.   Well, almost.

Anyway, we have this dog.  Her name has been through several evolutions since she was found as an orphan puppy frolicking in the park.  The shelter named her “Dottie” which we kept.  But to that has been added:  Dottie Parker, Dotsky Plotsky, and the best of all, Dottie Pigbody.  This last and best name not only sounds amazingly cute, it also describes what must be her heritage:  a cross between Fox Terrier and Pig.

We are rather proud of Dottie.  She is a fearless watchdog—except when she is afraid.  She loves her cat brothers and sisters—especially when she is chasing them up trees.  And she has never met a toy that she cannot demolish in under ten minutes.  Therefore we are always on the lookout for that indestructible toy.

Recently my mother may have found the Holy Grail—a rawhide bone made of salmon skin.  Dottie has owned this prized possession for at least a week now, and it is still in pristine condition.  (I know, I know—aren’t rawhides supposed to be chewed up?  Don’t be picky.)

We are excited that Dottie has kept this toy around for so long; however, I have noticed a disturbing change in her usually pleasant personality.  In fact this bone, henceforth referred to as the “fishbone,” has become an idol of sorts.

Dottie holds the fishbone in her mouth and walks around the house and yard displaying it to the cats.  Naturally, due to its aromatic nature, the cats are interested and when they come for a closer look, Dottie rushes at them to pounce and pommel them into oblivion.  Her obsession has become so great that twice—not only once—I have seen her run headlong into an iron screen door nearly breaking her own neck just because one of the porch cats dared glance in to glimpse her “Precious.”

As I’ve watched Dottie’s moral decline, I’ve noted a universal truth.  Very often, although we think we are the owners of our stuff, it is our stuff that really owns us.  One crowded stroll through the basement lets me know that Dottie is not the only one with this problem, and I am ashamed.  Why do we keep so much junk?  Why do I?

I remember an Erma Bombeck article that reminded us to use the good china, to burn the fancy candles … and I think I can add to that list to get rid of things that I don’t need that others could.  Stuff shouldn’t own us.  Bigger barns lead to bigger ulcers.  Poor Dottie has to guard the fishbone day and night, and that’s not a good way to live.  Heck, those cats don’t even want that stinky bone.  They’ve all checked it out and gave it a pass.  Dottie is worrying for nothing, but she won’t believe me.

Even though she won’t listen to me, I think I’ve learned a thing or two from her.  Rusty old bike anyone?  How about some out-of-print school books?  Broken weed eater?  Good bye, my preciousssssss …

ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE

By Lisa Huddleston

I am a person who feels the connections in the world; therefore, a truth in one arena is suddenly attached to a truth in another with a quick and jarring leap.  I learn in epiphanies and visions.  Presently I am considering that God gave this world everything it needs to have true shalom.  In other words, everyone in everyplace in every corner of this planet should have all he or she needs to lead a good life because God has provided enough to make it so.

My journey to this truth has been circuitous as I am prone to wander.  (Lord, I feel it.)  It began last week as I was sitting quietly to observe a counseling session at the center where I work.  As one in training, my job was to watch and listen and keep my mouth shut.  The client was a precious young woman for whom I immediately had maternal, protective instincts.  She had received very little help to make her way in the world.  With a less than average IQ, parents who left her, and very little income, she continued to smile and make me love her.

When I left that session, I had to go to a private office and cry my frustration out to a friend.  “It’s not fair,” I wailed.  “Why does God give some so little and others so much?”  It really ticked me off.

Next, several days later, my husband and I had time to kill before a church home group gathering  so we walked over to Starbucks to sip a couple of cups on the patio during our wait.  My heart lurched as I made my way through the doors to the outside tables, and Chuck went to the counter to order our drinks.  A very dirty, very wounded, obviously homeless man was lying on the bench with his swollen and beaten head propped up by his filthy backpack.  Oh great!  How can I sit here?  You know I have a weak stomach, God! But I decided to stay there as there were other people around, and Chuck soon joined me with coffee.

It hurt to look at the man’s distended eyes and lips.  There were black stitches circling his right eye and scattered across his face.  I literally ached in my gut.  And, of course, I thought about the Good Samaritan.  Where was a good Samaritan when you needed one?  Come on, God.  Oh man, surely it couldn’t be me.  And I remained miserably seated and silently sipping my scalding brew.

When Chuck decided it was time to go we stood,  and I gathered my leftover pizza from our dinner at Mellow Mushroom and started to walk past the man.  His eyes were closed, and he hadn’t asked for anything.  Still, I felt terrible.  I said, “Sir?”  And he opened his eyes, probably expecting me to shoo him away.  But instead I gingerly handed him a ten dollar bill, mumbled something I can’t even recall now to try to tell him I cared and left with tears in my eyes.  Lame!  I didn’t even offer him my pizza.  Pitiful!

So we headed to home group.  Can you believe the first thing we read was the story of the Good Samaritan?!  Of course, you can.  God is good like that.  He always ties the truth up with a bow–at least for me he does.

While the group discussed our responsibility to the poor, I sat and pondered a fact I had heard in the past: “The world produces enough food to feed everyone.  There is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day” (2012 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics).  Then why are there so many people hungry?  God has given us all we need, but it hasn’t been evenly distributed.  And the distribution is what we seem to have the most trouble with.

As people in the group tried to justify not contacting the poor or clothing the naked or freeing the prisoners, I silently kept thinking that God has given us (the BIG US) all we need for everyone.  Some have genius IQs–let them use them to help the mentally disabled.  Some have enormous belt sizes–let them invite the hungry to the table to share their food.  Some have securities and insurance and rainy day savings that will never be touched–let them spread the wealth and clothe those who will be freezing in a couple of months.

Oh God, forgive me.  “Let them” had a safe distance that is not accurate in any way.  Let me!  Send me, Lord.  I have time to volunteer.  I have skills that others need, and I can give them away.  I have clothes and food and more than I really need in just about every area of my life.  Open my eyes.  Open my heart.  Open my hands.

God blessed Abraham so that the whole world might be blessed.  To those whom much has been given, much is required.  Thank you for the reminder that we are blessed in order to bless others.  There is enough of everything.  It’s time to stop talking and start doing.  Share!