Shining the Light of Compassion
When he was four, our youngest son, Jackson, was snuggling beside me on our bed. After telling him a story, I got up to turn off the light. Flipping the switch, I crawled back in beside him.
Without warning, Jax started crying. "Mommy!" he yelled. "Where are you? I can't see you! Turn on the light!"
I immediately got up and turned a small lamp back on. "Mommy's right here,” I said. "I'm not going anywhere." And as soon as he could see me, he quieted down and began to fall asleep.
Many of the people God places in our path, even in our own families, are just like Jackson. They see a world full of darkness and wonder where God is. By sharing Christ’s love in thoughtful, practical ways, we point others to His darkness-dispelling grace.
Over the last few years, our family has slowly gotten more intentional about serving the “least of these.” We began by donating clothes for Hurricane Katrina victims and moved on to collecting money for a well in Africa. At times, our two boys gave with—seemingly—no real compassion or understanding about those we were serving. They acted more concerned with turning on their Wii than turning on lights for the needy.
But still, we persisted.
Last month, our church hosted a service day with the non-profit I work for. Families signed up to clean, sort, and inventory donations for refugees. When I asked my oldest son, Jordan, to participate, he said, “I can’t.”
Just as I was ready to demand that he serve with a willing and grateful heart, Jordan explained, “I told Weston I would do a 1K that day. We’re helping raise money for an orphanage in Africa.”
With excitement in his voice, he showed me literature about the organization, which was building a home for human trafficking victims. The founders had spoken at his school. He had even brought home a large plastic jug labeled “Funds for Justin’s Home” to collect our family’s spare change over the next few months.
One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 58:6-9. In The Message, it reads:
This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts. What I'm interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once.
It’s so easy to think that our efforts to ignite a spark in our kids—and in others, as we serve them together—aren’t making a real difference. But that day, as I watched the light of compassion sparkle in my son’s eyes, I felt incredibly grateful. A moment later, Jordan asked if he could play his videogame, and later, I had to threaten him with consequences if he didn’t turn it off. But right then, he was a philanthropist.
And it was good.