Volume 34 Number 8

Just Crumbs will Do. . .

Recently, my wife and I stopped at a local fast-food restaurant for hamburgers. As we ate in their outside eating area, I noticed that a beautiful blackbird, having midnight black body feathers, coal black tail, and wing feathers, landed in the empty space beside our car.  Standing very patiently, I knew that all he wanted was for me just to toss him a piece of bread from my hamburger. He would look at me as if to beg for just one small piece.   As I began to look at him more closely, I noticed that in all his God-created beauty, he was physically flawed. This species of bird normally has three toes that are spread evenly on the ground to give them balance. This particular bird, however, only had one foot to place on the ground. The other foot was deformed and turned back so that he walked on the joint where the foot and leg connects.

As I watched, the beauty of this bird really stood out as dull colored grackles begin to land, and then some aggressive pigeons appeared. None of these birds, however, could draw my attention from the blackbird. He was struggling to stand steady as a strong wind blew. Yet, with great effort he never gave in to the wind but stood firm on his one good foot. The strength, courage, and dedication of this deformed bird really touched my heart.  As he was standing there on one foot, not even indicating that he was so much as even thinking about giving in to his surroundings, it almost brought tears to my eyes as I thought about his dedication to life, how he stood tall among the other birds, and how he never gave up on what he wanted. But patiently he waited, just hoping for one small morsel of bread.

Everyday I see one and usually more than one of God’s creatures standing on the street corners in the city where I live, “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fall from the rich man’s table” (Luke 16:21). As the blackbird, for them just “crumbs will do.”  I wonder why my emotions are not touched by these precious souls, who are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), as much as by the blackbird that I observed at the fast-food restaurant. Instead of tossing them a “crumb,” however, I try to judge them by thinking, “If that person really wanted money he could work. Why should I give him my hard-earned money for which I work 10 hours a day for?”

Then I think, “Could he really work, or was he like the deformed blackbird only I could not see it?” Was he having as much trouble standing in the challenging “winds” (problems) of life as the blackbird? Was I missing the inward beauty of this person, or was I just not looking for the beauty, but only “seeing” the deformity?  All of this caused me to seriously think about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. The text tells us that this beggar “was laid” (literally, “was thrown”) or cast carelessly down by his bearers and left there.

This beggar obviously suffered some physical malady which did not allow him to walk. The text also indicates that Lazarus was not fed from the crumbs, but only “desired” to be fed from the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table (Luke 16:21). Yet, the rich man could only see the undesirability of the man, rather than the man’s need.   Perhaps our lives would be more spiritually blessed, fulfilling, and enriched if we were better able to “see” the physical and spiritual needs of our fellow man rather than the “deformities” in their lives, and at least be willing to feed them the “crumbs” which fall from the abundance of our table.

Mike Riley

End of this issue.