Tuesday, December 8, 2009

May We Have Eyes To See

This last weekend I went down to Temple Square with a friend and had a great evening seeing the Savior of the World and the Christmas lights. The performance was beautiful and moving and I was inspired by their message. After the performance we made our way back through Temple Square over to our car parked a few blocks away and as we passed I noticed the usual panhandlers that surrounded Temple Square. There has been quite controversy over whether to support panhandlers and beggers on the street and I have seen many stories in past years on the news that have exposed people posing as panhandlers only to take advantage of others generosity, and making good money to boot.

While we were living in Korea, my dear friend Tiffany shared an experience she had with me. Because Seoul was such a large city it was often much easier to travel by subway than drive. Tiffany was riding the subway one day when a begger woman entered the car. She was an older woman who had a slight difficulty walking. As soon as she entered the car, she moved directly to Tiffany who happened to be the only American on the car. This woman stood right in front of her with her hand stretched out. She didn't say a word but just stood there.

She was annoyed that this woman had instantly singled her out as the "rich American" and was expected to donate to every poor person who came along. There was a dozen other people on the car that could have easily donated to her cause, but the woman walked directly to Tiffany and expected her to give out. Annoyed with her asumption that she was full of money to give away, Tiffany sat with her arms folded and stared away from the woman. A minute later the woman moved on and looked for other donations.

Tiffany told me that later she was reading the Ensign magazine preparing for her visiting teaching and the lesson happened to be on blessing the poor. She shared with me a scripture in Mosiah 4:19 that reads,

"For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have?... And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependant for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing ye shall recieve, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another."

I remember when I was younger going with my family to see the lights at temple square. We had parked over by Dee's Family Restaurant just off North Temple so we could conveniently stop off for hot chocolate on our way back to the car after the lights. As we passed through the parking lot on our way to the lights, a man approached my Dad and asked if he had any money to spare. The guy explained that his car had broken down and he was trying to get back home and needed money to buy a bus ticket. My Dad simply asked how much the man needed, opened his wallet, pulled out what he could afford to give, and gave it to the man. The man thanked him and was on his way.

After the man had left, I asked my Dad why he gave the man money. "His car probably isn't even broke down and he'll probably use the money to buy drugs or alcohol. Why did you give it to him?" I asked. My Dad explained simply that if someone asks for our help we should give it. "You can never know if someone is trying to take advantage of you or not, but if you can help you always should" he said. Although my Dad didn't know the man's true intention for the money, he knew that he was responsible for his actions toward him.

I keep thinking about that lesson a lot lately and the scripture Tiffany shared with me. "Are we not all beggars?" We may not be begging for money, but we may be, in our own way pleading for attention or validation from a spouse or family member; on your knees pleading for forgiveness and relief from guilt and sin; acting out in anger because our children aren't behaving the way we would like; or maybe you find your self everyday on your knees pleading for Gods help to move forward in pursuit of a goal or dream.

My wish for myself, and all who read this, is that this Christmas season we will be able to SEE those around us. To truly see others through Christ’s eyes-- as children of God. Instead of seeing someone asking for an inconvenient hand out, allow the spirit of Christmas to work within you and see the soul of that someone, asking for your help. Don't judge their intent. Simply see it as an opportunity to GIVE. I've been praying for opportunities to give more this season and I hope I can have eyes to see all the opportunities that are around me.

Because I have been given much, I too must give.
Because of thy great bounty, Lord each day I live,
I shall divide my gifts from thee, with every brother that I see,
Who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been blessed by thy great love dear Lord,
I'll share thy love again according to thy word.
I shall give love to those in need, I'll show that love by word and deed,
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

Because I have been sheltered fed by thy good care,
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share,
My glowing fire my loaf of bread,
My roof's safe shelter over head,
That he to may be comforted.  

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