Gain Perspective

by Twila Belk

What will I give to the Lord [in return] for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for His precious blessings?]  Psalm 116:12 AMP

A dump isn’t a normal place to visit in a foreign country, but when you’re involved in a mission trip to Ecuador with the theme of “Never the Same,” it’s the type of thing you do. I was a chaperone for a team of teenagers, and our ministry one day was to the adults and children who made the heaps of rotting rubbish and discarded trash their home.

As our bus entered the site, the stench overpowered us. We could barely breathe, yet eighty-five families lived there. How is that possible? Our observations messed with our minds. Small cardboard shelters jutted from the mountain range of spoiled food products that were intermingled with soiled diapers, shards of glass, and the broken pieces of people’s lives. Garbage trucks arrived with regularity, and as they unloaded their contents, flocks of eager dump dwellers rummaged through the “fresh” goods.

On our way to the location, we had stopped at a market to purchase boxes of basic food staples to take with us. Many of us brought small toiletry items we had collected at home—soap, shampoo, lotions—the type of things hotels provide. While a group of teens and chaperones distributed supplies, others engaged the kids with activities.

We had barely stepped off the bus when a long line formed. Before us stood the most beautiful, filthy, sun-baked people with scraggly hair I had ever seen. Tattered, mismatched clothes hung on their bodies, and a few had feet covered with pitiable shoes they had found among the refuse. The rest were barefoot.

As soon as I opened my bag of toiletry items, hands reached out on all sides of me. A woman with deep creases in her face and dark, longing eyes looked up at me and begged, “Champú, champú.” When I gave her a tiny bottle of shampoo, her face beamed as if I had given her the key to Fort Knox.

The whole experience tugged at my heart. I cried out to God, “Oh Lord, please help me to never, ever forget that picture. You’ve given me so much. I have super-sized bottles of shampoo that I don’t even think about. This woman’s world became a better place with just an ounce. I have a bed. I have a roof over my head. I have clothes. I have soap and water. I have food—food that goes to waste. Everything these people have comes from a garbage truck.” I ended my plea to God with, “May I always maintain a grateful heart.”

The rest of the team had a similar revelation. Once back on the bus, many of them removed their shoes and articles of clothing, and they zealously dug through backpacks to find other items they could leave behind as gifts.

We all gained a new perspective that day. Rather than being discontent with what we didn’t have, we realized what we did have, and left the dump forever changed.

Oh God, thank you for the gift of perspective! I don’t realize how much I have until I see others who have so little. How is it possible that they can display such gratitude for their meager possessions and I act as if I am in need? Forgive me for not acknowledging the abundance of blessings I enjoy every day. Would you give me an awareness of things I tend to take for granted? Would you nudge me to share what I have with others? Would you help me to live in the reality of how blessed I am? I want to have a contented and grateful heart.

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, (c) 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.

twila belkAbout the Author: Also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, Twila Belk  loves braggin’ on God. Whether she’s writing, speaking, or teaching, she offers hope and encouragement for people to fix their eyes on him. Twila is the author of The Power to Be: Be Still, Be Grateful, Be Strong, Be Courageous and Raindrops from Heaven: Gentle Reminders of God’s Power, Presence, and Purpose as well as five other books. Mom to three grown children and Grandma to three precious little boys, Twila lives with her husband in Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River and the home of American Pickers, John Deere tractors, and Whitey’s ice cream.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner 51veIj1tu+L._SX344_BO1,204,203,200_from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Twila’s new devotional book,  The Power to Be, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Take a few minutes to reflect on how much you have, and thank God for the things you normally take for granted. What’s on your list?

 

12 thoughts on “Gain Perspective

    1. Thanks for commenting, Noelle! Gas in our tank, food in our bellies, and roofs over our heads are things many of us take for granted, aren’t they? Yet they are gifts for which we should (and can be) thankful.

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  1. That was jus beautiful! Right in the center of our Lord’s Heart! In the remembrance of whatever you do to others you do to Jesus. I have learned to take absolutely nothing for granted through the hardships of my trials and even though I am poor I am rich in the Lord in storing my treasures in heaven giving all that I have to know Christ more fully in the heart of intimately growing relationship! You are blessed beyond measure when you give to the poor.

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  2. Yes, a visit to another country can do a lot to adjust our perspectives. My husband and I were missionaries in South Korea during the postwar years when poverty was rampant. Now, due to commitment to hard work and education, it is totally different. But 50 years ago, Koreans thought of all Americans as rich, while we had thought of missionaries as pretty far down the economic scale. While we grumped that we couldn’t buy oatmeal or cottage cheese there, they were content if they had rice and kimchi 3 times a day. Our house was larger and warmer than theirs. And we had cameras, something hardly any Korean owned back then, so even now I am in the process of preparing scanned images from our 1500+ slides to send to the museum at the college where we taught, as they are historical even though poor photographically. But today Korea is far ahead of us in technology, with every child on the modern metro having a cell phone.

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    1. Thanks for sharing a bit of what you experienced in South Korea. I bet you have lots and lots of stories to tell and many lessons learned about perspective. As we open our eyes to all we have, we realize how blessed we are.

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