A ‘Mitey’ Big Present
The Return of “Giving it Your All”
Sunday, June 3, 2012
By Al Gray
This writer’s favorite painting is “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” an 1851 work by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. Yes, historians and assorted wags sniff that it is not historically accurate, because the famous river crossing happened in the night, but the art of it is that it conveys the sheer power of pain and sacrifice that gave rise to our wonderful nation. It also sets one to pondering about the future and whether we the people of America in this year of 2012 remotely have the dedication to give it all to God or country.
Focus on the men manning the paddles and oars in the boat, not the general or the officers. These brave lads came from a populace divided on even whether the Revolution was a good idea, much as our folks are divided today on government. They were not likely to win fame or fortune, yet there they were, giving the liberty movement their very lives. That same winter it was said Washington’s army could be tracked by the bloody footprints these patriot warriors left in the snow. They gave it all.
Jesus gave it all. He expects us to do that too. He watches from Heaven in observation of our actions, much as he sat one day observing people paying the Treasury.
Our Bible story this week is found in Mark 12, Verses 41 - 44, of the New American Standard Bible.
41 And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their [e]surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”
The sequencing of this story is curious as it is immediately before an accounting of the last days found in Mark 13, especially verses 9 through 13.
9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
Religion and politics are the realms where men and women of faith in God and country have been making the ultimate sacrifice since the days of Genesis. The widow didn’t know where her next meal was coming from. She might have been facing starvation. She certainly increased her deprivation in contributing her last cent. The patriots in Washington’s boat suffered starvation, freezing temperatures, frostbite, and isolation from home and loved ones. They risked death in camp, in battle, and as traitors had they lost.
Today in this America people are fat, contented, and lazy. Few are the patriots. Few are those who give up everything to follow Jesus. City and suburban life foists neighborhoods where no one knows their neighbors, because very few feel a sense of community or a compelling reason to be part of a community. This writer has had the good fortune to migrate to country life. Here things are much different. Folks in this relatively poor county pitch in to help their neighbors. It isn’t all that uncommon to get the feeling that they will give you the clothes off of their back. People still GIVE without any expectation of anything received in return. The contrast between living and working in Chicago, Winston-Salem, or Savannah is quite amazing. One sees HOPE in rural America that our people still have it within themselves to sacrifice for the greater good.
When times become tough, faith and the willingness to sacrifice it all may be all a man or woman has left. Everyone doing it will keep society from something very dark indeed. One day, in which we all will rejoice, I believe everybody in the land will see this as a necessity for life itself.
Try not to count on the end times or predict them. Practice sacrifice for others. It is a ‘mitey’ fine thing.
Remember Washington’s frozen troops. They were not standing tall in the boat. They were throwing body and soul into the oars. The widow gave her last mite. Will you do the same?***
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