an ongoing problem

Sunday a volunteer brought in some brand new coats and sweatshirts that a donor had bought on sale. They were so nice, the volunteer wanted to set them aside to be given to someone who really needed a good coat because if they were just put out on display they would be taken immediately, just because they were new, regardless if that person needed a coat. I know what he means. When things are offered free, in large quantities, people often grab all they can without limiting themselves to what they need or thinking of others who also need these things. As it turned out, some guests noticed the new things anyway and quickly grabbed several of them.

This had been an ongoing problem. At Christmas it was worst, I hear. People just grabbing everything they could get their hands on; and though there were plenty of donations because it was Christmas, it still was disheartening to see. A side effect of this behavior is the problem of hoarding in a limited space. People grab all they can for free but have nowhere to put it. There are arguments over space in the rooms. And piles of bags left in our garage or attic (though we've tried to resist this). It's really sad to see a poor person creating such a huge pile of stuff that it becomes another problem for them. Where to put it all? How to move it? A very heavy security blanket.

I think of this again in contrast with the kind of help Jesus offered. No one could hoard it. No one could steal it or make a temptation of it. If people didn't come to him with a pure, faith-filled heart, they could receive nothing. He did not give as the world gives.

And I notice it's similar in the 12-step programs. They don't give anything that can be grabbed selfishly. There is help there, powerful help, but only if people are willing to humble themselves and look to God in faith. Those who refuse to do this receive nothing.

That's something I'd like to emulate. I get the impression that the retreat ministry is like this in many ways.