by Taramesha Deborah Maniatty

It was cold outside, but she knew it was colder in her heart. His haunting eyes were so vivid in her mind. She had wanted to run and hide somewhere. Where, she did not know. Just anywhere away from those eyes. Eyes filled with hunger, eyes soft and gentle, eyes that desired...What was it he really wanted? Lydia, out of a sense of duty, had given a loaf of bread to the man. Then why did she feel so very cold inside? Cold and lifeless. Dead.

The young woman nervously brushed back a piece of honey colored hair that had strayed from her long braid. It doesn’t matter. It will go away. These thoughts filled her head, but it didn’t comfort her heart. Lydia’s small mouth twitched slightly as she pondered. He was so dirty. Really, why don’t they just take care of themselves like everyone else? She was finding it hard to justify her actions. The only one listening to her excuses was herself. Lydia knew full well this feeling that would not leave her alone. All too often she had felt this tug at her spirit and all too often she knew what it meant. She was wrong. Oh, she might have done a good, “right”thing, but her heart was wrong. Plain and simple. It was a convicting conscience.

Yes, the day was cold. It was nearing Thanksgiving and everyone was bustling about doing last minute shopping for the holiday. This was a jolly time of year, or at least it appeared to be a jolly time of year. If you looked too deep, though, you would find that for many it was just a facade. Ungratefulness, self-centeredness, and constant complaining were very prevalent. Still, there were some who were truly thankful. And not just thankful at this one time of the year, but thankful each and every day.

Lydia spotted her gray Volkswagen and jostled the noisy shopping cart, trying to maneuver it around a corner. The wind howled loudly and whipped about her jean clad legs. It even managed to poke its icy finger through the small hole in the light wool coat she wore.

I couldn’t even look at the man. He never said any thing. It was just his eyes. They were joyful but....broken, kind but...very sad. By now Lydia had made her way from the grocery store to her car. Her shaking hands had recovered enough to locate her car keys and place them in the door lock. With some effort she managed to turn the key. Continuing to mull over that which had happened only a few brief moments ago, she began loading the groceries in her vehicle. As she settled into the driver’s seat a still small voice began to speak. It was not an audible voice but it spoke clearer than any voice, Lydia had ever heard.

“Was it not I who went to the needy and downtrodden? Did I not welcome the beggars and the diseased? Did I not come for them too?”

Lydia had heard this voice many times, for it was the voice of One whom she had come to know as a child and He had become her close Friend. After she had asked Jesus into her heart she had been able to hear this still quiet voice. Lydia let out a sigh as she remembered how sharp and true the word of the Lord was. Conviction. It does the soul well. There was no use arguing with the Lord.

So what should I have done? Lord, you know I am weak. You know how often and how quick I am to judge. I want to see with Your eyes. How do You see that man Lord? How should I see him? What was it about that man that so touched my heart?

Lydia was still sitting in her little Volkswagen. People walked by looking at her strangely as she sat staring at the driver’s wheel. Gently she rested her elbows upon the wheel, clasped her hands, and laid her head upon them. Again the man’s face came vividly into view. His eyes, though hollow with hunger, were sparkling. His crooked smile brought friendly wrinkles to his aged face. There was no bitterness there. None evident at all. Was that what bothered Lydia so very much?

He had joy. Even as he sat there on that bench having to ask for donations of food for his family. He had nothing, Lord, but he acted as though that did not matter one bit to him.

The Lord replied to Lydia’s observations, “That is because he does indeed have everything. When you have my Son you are lacking for nothing. This truth is one which he has come to learn. Thankfulness is the beginning of joy. Do you have joy Lydia? Are you thankful?"

She was a little taken back by the turn of conversation. No longer was the Lord talking about a man Lydia had never met. He was now talking to her... about herself... a very uncomfortable situation for her.Well, uh... yeah. I guess I’m thankful. I really should be. I have everything I need: a great family, wonderful children, I get to do so many things I love.

The Lord interrupted Lydia, “Ah, yes. You do have many things. I have blessed you have I not? But what if you did not have those ‘things’? Would you still be thankful? What if YOU were that man, sitting on that bench? Would YOU have joy too”

A tear trickled slowly down her rosy cheek, then another. She thought of her family. She thought of the times during the week where she had acted unthankful towards them and ungrateful for them. She thought of her job and the numerous times she had complained about it...even just today. These were things that the Lord had truly blessed her with. But she acted so unthankful. And what if she did not have those things? Would she be thankful all the same?

I have much to be grateful for. If I did not have those “things” to be grateful for, Lord, I would still have so much to be thankful for. I have You. And that should fill me with thankfulness and joy each and every day. Oh, I know I am not there yet, but I want to be. Oh, how I need to be thankful like that man was thankful!

Once again the sweet voice of the Lord filled Lydia’s heart with comforting words, “Then I will teach you. That man was thankful because he had learned that His treasure was not here in this world but in My Son. Things of this earth shall dim and fade away. They shall never remain. But that which My Son Jesus has done for you shall never fade away. When you gaze upon that Truth you shall befilled with a joy of thanksgiving no matter what circumstances come your way. Have you not everything you need in Me? This is the truth of Thanksgiving.”


Psalm 95:2
Psalm 100:3-5
Philippians 4:6
James 1:2-4

Copyright 2014