I’ve got a funny habit of writing about things I observe when I run that interest me, and yesterday was no different. In some ways, I wish it hadn’t been so remarkable. But that’s a reflection of the spirit of the day in which we live. I’ll explain.
It’s been stinkin’ hot here in the Southern Plains. Yesterday it got up to 113. That makes my outdoor runs pretty short and to the point. But at the end of the run, I saw something pretty cool.
When I run in the city, I wind up at the doorstep of my gym downtown. That particular street is shaded in the afternoon, and as a result, a few homeless people are known to hang out here to take refuge from the sun.
I crossed the street, slowed to a walk, and then stooped over to put my hands on my knees. You know, that universal sign of “I’m done.” I looked over to my left and saw a pickup with a bunch of cases in the back and two people handing out cold bottles of water.
“Hey man, you want some water?” one of the guys asked.
“Nah, I’m good.” He asked if I was sure, and I assured him I was OK. They went on, handing out bottles to homeless guys who’d been out in the heat all day and likely would be all night.
The guys I saw were working with a charitable ministry called John 3:16 Mission. The Mission runs a homeless shelter downtown and tries to reach out to those who decline to stay at the shelter, like the men who were congregating on that street yesterday.
I loved this, but on that particular day, it was also a disconcerting contrast. While these guys are sweating it out trying to keep the homeless hydrated and safe, hundreds of thousands of their brethren in the faith were sweating it out in long lines outside Chick-fil-A restaurants across the country.
Wednesday was an unofficial Chick-fil-A appreciation day, organized by FOX News talk show host Mike Huckabee in response to an uproar over the fast food chain’s boss’ comments about gay marriage and his support of organizations that oppose it.
By all accounts, these stores were packed. People spent an hour or more happily waiting to pick up their orders in exchange for their hard-earned cash.
I get it. A lot of folks were upset over comments made by leaders in Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, who said the restaurant chain isn’t welcome in their cities. The people queued outside Chick-fil-A locations think their views are being disrespected.
Without getting into the politics of it, there are a few observations I’d like to make concerning the efficacy of all this.
Believe what you want. This is a free country, a legally protected free society that allows you express your thoughts and worship how you please.
Eat what you want, where you want. We live within the architecture of a free market in which the consumer ultimately decides the success or failure of any business venture.
But on this day, it would have been pretty cool to see all of the time and money making a show of political support to a business directed elsewhere. If you’re going to sweat it out, why bother packing the house of an already successful and prosperous enterprise? Trust me, Chick-fil-A will survive this tempest and continue to sell scads of chicken sandwiches for years to come.
Meanwhile, John 3:16 Mission is running short of bed space, clean clothes, food and other supplies. Like many charities, funds are stretched thin, especially in times like this, where a record-breaking and dangerous heat wave hits hardest at those living on the edges of society. I’d say that cause, and many more like it, need our time and money more than a fast food chain.
When your years pile up and your sight grows dim, what would you like to remember of your life? Jesus said when you feed and clothe “the least of these,” you did the same for Him.
Take a stand for the faith if you must. But be picky in the manner in which you make that stand. Make it count. Ask yourself: How do I want to be remembered? As a faith community, how do we want to be remembered? Where can we make the biggest and best impact on people’s lives?
Just a few thoughts of what I see when I run…
On Twitter @RMHigh7088