In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3
In the letter, he writes that he works very hard but can never make enough. He pleads to God that even $100 would make him extremely happy.
The next day he goes to the post office, hands in his letter, and leaves with high hopes. The person sorting all the mail notices the envelope addressed to God. Confused, he stamps the letter to be returned to the poor man’s house.
Later that week, as the mailman comes to the poor man’s house to deliver his mail, he also notices the letter addressed to God. The mailman reads the letter and feels bad for the poor man, so he decides to get $50 out of his wallet and put it in the envelope. He puts the envelope in the poor man’s mailbox and continues on with his day, feeling great for helping a man in need.
The next week, when the mailman reaches the poor man’s house again, he notices yet another letter from the poor man to God. He opens the envelope and reads the letter:
“Thank you so much for the money you sent me last week, but you should know that my thieving mailman stole half of what you had sent me!”
Let’s look at the four characters of this story?
He is hardworking, tries to pay his bills and says the “dear God prayer” asking for heavenly provisions for 100$.
He hears the prayers and answers part of the prayer through the Mailman.
Or, God doesn’t hear the prayer because 2 humans try to solve it on their own.
Or, He wants to answer through the Mailman, but this man isn’t completely obedient and only gives half.
Or He wants both involved to give 50$
Or His intention is that both give 100$ so the Poor man is blessed abundantly.
Or, He wants to answer it through the Sorting Mailman, to return the letter and challenge the Poor man to speak directly to God and his community.
Crosses his competence, opens a letter, let’s his heart get moved and shares his money. He gets the “good feeling” after helping the man in need with 50$.
Later finds himself accused of being a thief because he only answered half the request. But maybe the 50$ were all he had left, maybe also was poor, would this change the story?
Is this the real villain? He doesn’t send the letter to God, returns it without letting his heart be moved, returning it back to the Poor Man?
Yes, such a little story raises some good questions. Could the Mailman really be seen as a thief, robbing God, robbing the Poor Man? Or did he give all he had, and did the problem rest with the Poor Man who didn’t have faith and started accusing people of his own being in need?
A few years ago the following book was very popular amongst people I work with:
When Helping Hurts, alleviating poverty without hurting the poor and yourself, written by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.
In bringing change the writers take the following approach. Asset-based community development, a methodology for the sustainable development of communities based on their strengths and potentials. It involves assessing the resources, skills, and experience available in a community; organizing the community around issues that move its members into action; and then determining and taking appropriate action.
This method uses the community’s own assets and resources as the basis for development; it empowers the people of the community by encouraging them to utilize what they already possess.
Let me re-write the story from this viewpoint:
The Poor Man
Is in need and prayers for 100$. He also shares a copy of his letter to God to the community he lives in. He specifies to God and in this letter that the roof of his house is leaking, as well as his feeling of always being in need.
God has heard the prayers directly, hears the second prayer, then hears the prayer of the community as well.
God starts stirring the hearts of the people in the community, preparing them for action.
He says a prayer and sends the letter a local building company known to be very professional, built on good values and with an excellent reputation.
He hears of the letter being sent to God. When he goes to the house of the Poor Man,
he sits down for tea and listens to the worries of the Poor Man, buys him some food, and pays him a bus ticket to the company the mailman sent the letter to.
This story could end with the local building company repairing the roof of the Poor Man’s house with the Mail Man and the Sorting Man sharing the costs.
It could end with the roof being fixed without cost, just a few hours of labor of person coming from the local building company to fix it.
WWJD? What would Jesus do? Would he preach the Sermon on the Mount and challenge his hearers to sell their earthly goods and give to the poor, and so provide themselves with “a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
What would Bill Gates do?
What would your parents do?
What would your pastor do?
What would you do if you were the mailman, or the guy sorting the mail?
Let’s end by what the boy in the story with Jesus did:
And the boy offered Jesus his meager lunch. He only had a few loaves and fishes, and Jesus had 5,000 mouths to feed. Gifts in God’s hands can be and often are divinely multiplied to meet the demands of greater works.
What are your “loaves and fish” to give this week?
Wishing you His provisions!