The Beautiful Gate
Posted in Stewardship/Giving
Scripture: “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” – Acts 3:1-10
As the first rays of light dance across the dark domain of dawn, the fluorescent lights in the coffee shop help to cast a slumping shadow on the sidewalk of Main Street. In the frosty air of winter, in the fragrant air of spring, in the foul air of summer and in the foggy air of fall, he sits there– like an institution, I suppose, at the door of the Central Coffee Shop waiting for friendly folks to walk by his wheelchair and to drop a few coins into his cup.
He is a very nice man with a pleasant personality, and I learned quickly, after moving to Manning, to concentrate on his kind countenance in order to insulate myself, as it were, from the cold reality of creation’s deformities. As I approach his presence, I reach deeply into my pockets searching for something to share– other than car keys and old chewing gum wrappers. And if there is nothing, I will assure him that coins will clang in his cup on my way out, and they do.
As I walk away from his wheelchair, having done so little with so much, I wrestle, like Jacob, with a nocturnal visitor, which causes my heart to limp into a new day. The visitor which wrestles and lames my heart is an old foe– the unanswerable questions of the soul. Why does life require some people to spend their days in wheelchairs? How can we, as the youthful song says, “Guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride,” if a man has to beg for money to eat? Why do I drop those coins into his cup? Is it a way of assuaging my guilt? Yet why would I feel guilty? Who knows? But I sometimes do.
After all, standing next to him, I appear to have everything in life a person could want, and he appears to have so little. I know. Maybe I contribute those coins because Christ once said, “When you do it unto one of the least of these, you do it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40). Is Christ really sitting there with that man in the wheelchair, holding his tin cup? Or is it easier to give money than to give a portion of myself? Is it easier to drop a few coins into a coffer, as it were, than to hold his hand for the Master or to listen to the sounds of his soul for the Savior?
Do we have more to give in life than a handful of pocket change or a signature on a check? I think we do. I hear Christ saying that it is often easier to give money than to give of ourselves. It is often easier to drop coins in a coffee cup than to touch someone with the healing strength of Christ. How can we give of ourselves and touch others with the healing strength of Christ today and every day? Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is waiting. What is our response?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to find ways to give of ourselves and touch others with Your healing strength today and every day. Amen.
Submitted by Judy Holmes