The World Health Organization estimates by 2017 the majority of the world’s population, even in less developed countries, will be living in urban areas.
Being in the heart of Manhattan, this is easy to believe.
More people live and work in New York City than at any time in its history. Today, 8.5 million have made their home in this metropolis, and the number is expected to grow.
My husband and I have added two more to the 8.5 million figure. It seems like a drop in the ocean, but that’s how it happens.
I am intrigued how a city such as New York continues to function day after day. Trash piled high in black or green bags on the sidewalk at 5:00pm in the evening, has magically disappeared by the following morning.
I am fascinated by the diversity of people I see as I walk to my “workspace for writers” each day.
However, I also find myself challenged.
A couple and their dog make their home in an abandoned doorway. They lie under sleeping bags; their belongings piled high in a shopping cart beside them. Others sit on the sidewalk with cardboard signs scrawled with details of their poverty. Occasionally, I see a single woman. One sits cross-legged, coat pulled around her to keep out the biting wind. I glance over. She caught my sideways look. “Happy Thanksgiving,” she called. “Happy Thanksgiving,” I replied back. It rolled off my tongue before I realized how ridiculous it sounded.
How should I respond to the people who live on the streets—those without a home?
I pray for each person I pass. It seems a cowardly contribution. Yet, prayer is not for the faint-hearted and never wasted. Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering! Cornelius was told.
But my prayers don’t seem enough.
I hear coins rattle into the can—someone behind me has done what I want to do. But, I don’t have the courage. I feel intimidated, threatened even, by these people who are more street-wise than myself.
Yet, I reflect on the contents of our coin tray, on a shelf just inside the door of our apartment. It overflows with loose change. I forget, though, to fill the pocket of my coat, as I walk out the door.
A colleague instructed my husband many years ago when he first visited the Big Apple, not to give money. However, it bothers me.
I do not have an answer.
I struggle. You are the light of the world, Jesus said about those who follow him.
Jesus reprimanded those who liked to show off their own good deeds—to shine their own light. It’s not that I want to look good in front of others—for them to think well of me.
We want to shine so God will get the glory, so people will turn to God and know him.
How do we show other people that God loves them, and that he cares about them in our homes, our neighborhoods and in our cities?
That’s our challenge.
As you go into the New Year, I encourage you to think and pray about where God wants you to be his light. Where can you resolve to shine God’s light?
Help me to remember
I have your light within me.
Help me to remove the façade,
To open the blinds and pull back the curtains
so each moment of the day
others can see you.
With you there is no night.
Let it not be for my own glory,
but for you to be glorified.
For your love and compassion to shine.
It’s a struggle, Lord, and a challenge.
In this next year, I want to do well.
I have a responsibility to shine your light.
I set one goal.
I resolve to shine for you in ________________________.
Show me how to do this.
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