A cup of cold water and a kid in cold weather
By Rob Birks, Captain –
“This should fit you,
shouldn’t it?” asked the
lady without a home to
my son without a jacket.
She was bending down, measuring him up. She held in her hands a sweatshirt, the buried treasure for which she had been searching. She must have overheard our conversation a few minutes ago. “Daddy, I’m cold,” shivered my son. And me, being the compassionate father that I am, responded, “That’s because you left your jacket in the van.”
We had been at the park for about 45 minutes. The Salvation Army shows up the second Sunday of every month for our street ministry. About nine of us showed up that day, under the leadership of our Street Ministries Coordinator, Dan Guhl, unloaded boxes of clothes and toiletries to be distributed to those in need. Some of us passed out coffee and sandwiches, some handed out New Testaments, and others just engaged in conversations with the crowd that had quickly gathered. One of the main reasons I was there was to show my son what his mom and dad’s lives were all about: giving.
The sweatshirt didn’t fit, but neither did my response to my son’s need when compared to the lady’s. I was caught off guard. We were there to help her. She was supposed to be looking for warm clothes for her cold winter. Instead, she took care of my son’s needs. I corrected irresponsibility. She correctly responded.
Sometimes, we Christians think we’re really on target when we set out to offer “a cup of cold water’ (Matthew 10:42). The more I read that passage of scripture, the more I am convicted that Jesus wasn’t talking about what his disciples would do for others, but what others would do for his disciples. In context, Jesus is sending his disciples out into the world. Earlier, in verse 40, he says to them: “He who receives you receives me.”
Jesus was making it clear that those who receive the disciples would get more blessing than they bargained for. Verse 42 reads in full: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
Don’t let all that masculine language fool you. Jesus wasn’t only talking about men. I believe he may have been talking about a lady in downtown Portland on a cold Sunday afternoon.
Mission accomplished. My son learned about giving that day, from an old lady, if not from his “old man.” Hey, this should fit you, shouldn’t it?