The man in front of me could not afford the $45 worth of groceries in his cart. Twice his card declined, and he politely told the cashier he’d have to come back “in December”. I glanced at the cart he abandoned as he left the store. It had real food in it: milk, oatmeal, fruit. I felt stupid waiting to pay for the cheese sticks and crackers for my kids, awkwardly saddened that this man walked away while the cashier just went on with her business, briskly asking how I was, did I find everything all right. Maybe she sees this every day. I swiftly went outside, looking for him, not really knowing what I would say except I wanted to somehow pay for his food. He had vanished. I wondered what he would eat tonight. I wondered if four gallons of milk was just for him. I wondered when he’d return for his groceries, “in December”. It was already the first day of December.
I contemplated much during that day that many people are hungry in their souls, too. They are not so obvious around us, no “declined” written on their sleeves, but they have not the Bread of Life, the Living Water. I marvelled at how my awkwardness extends not only to my wallet but to my lips, continually withholding the gospel. In truth I cannot offer Food without somehow exposing that their hunger exists, and that Jesus is a friend of hungry sinners. And therein lies the rub: my open wallet exposes their empty one. And wine and milk that may be bought without money and without price are put off for another time, for another “December” we are sure will come in time again, another year. Christmas always comes round again. Such thoughts that are uncaptive run amok.
For a man or woman spiritually hungry, I imagine the tinny Christmas music and reflective lights in the windows must seem a bit trite. The sights and sounds that are supposed to be a semblance of the joy of heav’n and nature singing somehow deepens the darkness of the shadows they cast instead. Do we who are fed to the full care to give the sense of Christmas? I’m afraid unless we recognize the much we are given, we will be lackluster in our giving. Unless we understand the Bible and its sense, we won’t be ready in any season to cause others to understand the whole message of this season.
The reason for the Christmas season, after all, is Easter. For those with ears to hear, they will never thirst again. Will we withhold Water just because we do not know the state of hunger pangs and wish not to offend those whom claim to be full?
I wish I had offered to pay for that man’s grocery cart. And that I could at least have given Him a tract too, that his soul might be nourished. Somehow, we both went away a little bit hungry today.