Notes from Jan

A Nickel for Your Thoughts

March 8, 2017

Giving to instead of giving up during Lent continues to prick my conscience.

Needs overwhelm.

A few weeks ago, driving to the Phoenix airport along 24th street,  the landscape shifted swiftly from boutiques to the blight linked with poverty.

Maybe because it was Sunday, contrasts grabbed me like a dog with a rag, leaving me shaken. I saw the 7 Elevens, the Circle K gas/convenience stores for what they often are, the WholeFoods and supermarkets for the poor.

Stopped at a traffic light, I watched a homeless man attempt to right his wobbly-wheeled bicycle, while struggling to balance trash bags of worldly goods on the handle bars and a jerry-rigged trailer attached to his rear wheel.

Lord, have mercy, on him, on me, so prone to prefer pretty and safe.

Driving past barred shop windows, protecting those who’d do harm more than good, luring those without a nickel to spare thru easy loans, pawn, tattoos, and massages. Found myself wrapped in despair until I spotted the Set Free Baptist Church.

No stained glass, no fancy courtyard where coffee and conversation flow, just a plain building, not all that indistinguishable from its surroundings except for a couple of words: Set Free.

Brought to mind  the story in Acts 3 of Peter and James, about to enter the Temple, when they see a beggar by the Beautiful Gate.

They stop, look into his eyes and say,”I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”

And the man, crippled from birth, jumped up and walked.

Set Free.

On this seventh day of Lent, I wonder, “What’s in my hand?”









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  • Reply Mark Taylor March 8, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    I like your translation of Acts 3:6–“I don’t have a nickel to my name.” You could have done The Living Bible or The Message!

  • Reply Elizabeth Payne March 9, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Powerful description of the nutritional food and spiritual food desert and then the coming upon the beauty of a spiritual oasis. An oasis where there is Living Water, where there is Life.

  • Reply wendy lane March 10, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    So thought provoking Jan. Thank you for helping us THINK about some hard things – I too am so prone to prefer pretty and safe. I get an email from Voice of the Martyrs on a regular basis with prayer requests from Christians who are suffering in often horrific ways for their faith. It grounds me. Makes me thankful for all I have instead of grumbling about what might be bothering me. My problems are so petty in comparison. I believe our prayers are powerful though – somehow, someway, that little thing we do God uses in big ways. He is amazing. I’m thinking one thing I can give during lent is my time – to pray more, for others. Love you!

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