In February, snow, ice, and a deep freeze for several days surprised us here in Texas. Many years ago, we had a similar ice storm in Waco. My father cared so much about people that he put on his golf shoes with metal spikes, and walked five miles to make sure the furnaces where he worked did not freeze. As an executive with Owens Illinois Glass Company, he knew if the furnaces broke, people’s jobs would be in jeopardy. Since many of his employees lived from paycheck to paycheck, he didn’t want anyone to be out of a job.
Texans are not prepared for snow, ice, and below-zero temperatures. Millions experienced extensive damage from the storms, including power outages, broken water pipes, ceilings that caved in, and no drinking water. People even froze to death. Some braved it in their homes without power and cooked on their fireplaces as they wrapped themselves in blankets next to the fire. On TV, I saw people waiting in line for hours in the freezing weather in order to get groceries and bottled water.
Texans are hardy people, and we came together to offer food, water, and warm homes. I spoke with family and friends from all over the state, who had multiple people staying with them. The shelters were spilling over and other places were scrambling to handle the overflow. Restaurant personnel distributed free food in the shelters. It was a loss to them financially, but they put others before their own needs. Many people donated to the shelters and organizations who provided relief. It warmed my heart to see people driven by mercy and unconditional love.
Unbelievers and those of faith were working side-by-side, meeting the needs. I pictured the Lord smiling with an approving look as His children were doing what He has always desired of them.
“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” (Luke 6:31 MSG).
The Scriptures tell us there are spiritual gifts the Lord has given us. Believers recognize these gifts and unbelievers use them instinctively.
“For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that” (1 Corinthians 7:7 NKJV).
Scriptures explaining the spiritual gifts can be found in Ephesians 4:11, Romans 12:6-8, and 1 Corinthians 12:6-10, 28. All are important to the body of Christ.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:27-28 NIV).
We each have gifts, but when people are in need, our mercy and compassion kicks in and we all want to help. One of the spiritual gifts is called the gift of “helping,” sometimes referred to as the gift of service. We saw this played out during the ice storm. For years my friends who love to help have been so special in my life. They are always “Johnny on the Spot” to do whatever needs to be done. They are the ones whose eyes are roaming for ways to help others when needs arise, and usually do not even need to be asked. I know if I need help, I can pick up the phone and they will be there in a flash. These people never complain and seem to gather steam as they are helping.
I applaud those with this gift who immediately put on warm clothes and braved the weather to help those in need. Many opened their homes and others donated financially. Helping is not my strongest gift, but the Lord led me to do something to help. Many of us helped because God impressed it upon our hearts.
The ice storm was bad, lessons were learned, but the huge number of people who helped one another had the strongest impact on me. Love and compassion won.
Father, I am so grateful for Your gift of helping. Countless people were blessed because You placed the needs of people on their hearts. I thank You for those who rose to the occasion whether in physically giving, financially giving, opening their homes, or providing food and water to those in need. I ask you to pour out a special blessing on them. Thank You Lord, for making us aware of the need for water when we take it for granted. No matter how difficult things become, I praise You Father, because out of the difficulties arise lessons and teachings. Amen.