Last night (Wednesday) I saw the news of a massive winter storm headed our direction. It could bring a foot of snow, plus an inch of ice, along with temperatures way below freezing. I may experience my first "ice storm." Yikes! Then this morning I received an email that the construction crew next to our apartment complex had broken a gas line, cutting off gas to our apartment. That means no hot water and no heat. I arrived home from work to an apartment moving steadily toward 60 degrees and below. I fretted a bit about how cold it could get if the heat was not turned back on, and just how high the dishes could stack of we didn't get hot water. As I drove to the store this afternoon I saw at least 5 trucks and some heavy equipment parked around a big hole in the ground and a bunch of men working hard. Then, tonight at 4:30 the gas line was fixed and our apartment began to heat up around 6:00pm.
As I sit here in my toasty (72 degree) apartment and look forward to watching the snow fall in front of a nearby floodlight, I remember again how privileged I am. I never worry about heating my house or feeding my children or having clean water. When a gas line breaks, a dozen men are dispatched to fix it and I barely even have to deal with a twinge of worry. My life is so different than that of many millions of men, women, and children this Christmas season. To have a house as warm as I want it, to have an endless supply of clean and hot water, to have food for my children. Compared to most of the world, and most people in human history, I live a very strange and privileged life.
You may be like me, living this strange, sheltered life where the fears, so common to most people, never even cross our mind. You may be like me, and when you pray "Give us this day our daily bread," you spiritualize it, rather than thinking about real bread. You may be like me and be surrounded by strange people who think this kind of life is normal. Maybe not. Whatever the case, I am reminded today that I should be more grateful, and more humble. I am reminded of the single moms who don't know how they will pay their gas bill and buy Christmas presents this year. I am reminded of the dad who was already two months behind on his mortgage and just got layed off. And looking a little further, I am reminded of the child whose parents aren't there to protect her, and of the mom who cannot find clean water, let alone hot water. I am reminded of all this, and I want to be different. I don't want the comfortable illusion of American wealth to make me think I can protect and provide for myself. I don't want to forget God. I want to pray dependent prayers and show my girls what it means to live by faith in a God who is near to us and cares for His people. I want to be a man who cares, who remembers, and who gives. I want to be a dad who sacrifices, not only for my wife and children, but also for someone elses's children. I know this is all hard to do. Jesus said something about it being difficult for rich people (I suppose that even applies to rich people who don't seem too rich in a wealthy place like America).
I am reminded tonight that being privileged doesn't always equal being blessed. I suppose that is part of why Jesus said "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).