Picture affirms volunteer efforts in Katrina cleanup

12/7/2005

 A Devotion
By Murrie Lee

Picture affirms volunteer efforts in Katrina cleanup

 

Scripture: Psalm 90:17

After responding to gentle nudges from God and hearing my pastor say, “God is not interested in our ability but in our availability,” I recently participated in a mission work team that spent a week in Biloxi, Miss. Upon our safe arrival at the First United Methodist Church in Biloxi, I went into the leaking sanctuary and knelt at the altar. As I prayed, I thanked God for our safe journey and offered my hands to be His instruments.

Our team spent the next five days cutting trees, hauling limbs, removing debris and doing light construction at the homes of many people and at the church. On the day before we were to leave, five of us were sent to clear a widow’s lot; her home had been destroyed.

As I helped clean the widow’s lot I felt that I was invading her privacy. Even though we had her permission to clean the lot, I had a strange feeling as I took her possessions to the curb. While sifting through the debris, a small framed picture caught my eye. I picked it up and wiped the dirt away. A sudden chill came over me. The same picture, although a larger one, hangs in my den and is one of my most prized possessions. The picture, by Emile Renouf, is titled “The Helping Hand.”

As I held the tiny picture that I had found, I must admit that I had thoughts of taking it home with me. I realized that would be taking her property and that would be wrong. I placed the picture along side her fence where had we placed other items that we thought that she might want to keep.

I cannot help but think that my finding that picture was God’s way of letting me know that He was validating my efforts to do His work among the many victims of the recent storm. I wondered, however, whether the picture was actually the widow’s.

In November I returned to Biloxi for a two-week stay. This trip afforded me the opportunity to attend Sunday worship services at the First UMC and to meet the widow whose lot I had helped clear. I introduced myself to her and asked if she the picture of “The Helping Hand.” She said she did not. The next day I returned to her lot and found the picture exactly where I had placed it the previous month.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, keep me ever mindful of the needs of others and to always be ready and willing to be of service to others.

Lee is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmington, N.C. This column was adapted from a devotional booklet his church published.