“Momma, here come the Truexes again. Why do they always show up at dinner time?”
“They’re hungry, son. They don’t have much, so your Dad always invites them to come eat with us. Does that bother you?”
“Well, no Mom, but you know I don’t like Connie. She is smelly and her hair is so ratty, I don’t even like to look at her.”
“Lucian, be ashamed of yourself. Connie can’t help the way she is. She has it a lot harder than we do. Don’t you remember when you had to go outside to the pump to wash up?”
Looking back over the years, I can truly say, “Yes, Momma, I do.”
I also remember a Daddy that would share the little bit he had with those who had even less. I remember the Truexes and many more hungry folks sitting at our table, day after day, eating the ever-present beans and potatoes.
There were drunks and derelicts that Tommy, my Dad, would bring home from the streets where he worked, to feed them and let them share the warmth of our home on those cold winter nights.
There were the other families who lived in our poor neighborhood who would spontaneously show up at dinnertime without any invite, knowing Tommy would not turn them away. Granted, they would only get beans and potatoes with flour biscuits, for that’s all we had, but I can’t ever remember anyone complaining.
I remember an incident involving ole Harrell Martin, our mean next-door neighbor.
Harrell was a monster of a man, in size and attitude. Once, Harrell had pushed my younger brother, injuring him. My Dad, who was born with one hand and had a crushed hip from his youth, resulting in one leg being shorter than the other, jumped in between them. Harrell fought Dad until my older brother and I chased him off with a pick ax.
I remember sitting at the dinner table one evening watching this ole goat sitting on his broke down front porch with his head in his hands. His wife had left him because of his cruelty and the bank was about to repossess his home for lack of payments. He looked like his world had ended.
Without a word, my Dad got up from the table, filled a large plate with beans, fried potatoes, and several biscuits and headed out the door towards Harrell. I held my breath as I saw my Dad approach this massive giant with his only hand outstretched in fellowship and the plate of food cradled in his other arm. I watched as Harrell’s body shook and tears flooded from his eyes. He took Dads hand and held it to his tear stained cheek without saying a word. Dad gave him the food and I heard him say, “ I thought you might be hungry. Come on over if you would like some company.” With that Daddy came back to the table and never said a word about it to us.
Harrell did lose his home and left the area. Many years later he returned in an old RV to visit Dad. They would sit and talk like two old long-lost friends. Yes, I remember that. I will always remember that. Dad did more than feed a hungry man; he made a friend out of an enemy by forgiving and extending his hand.
I learned so much from my humble Dad. He truly exemplified Proverbs 25:21, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (NIV)
He had so little, but he shared what he had with those who had even less. He would always say that nothing is worth having if you can’t give it away. It took me a long time to fully understand this saying. Dad wasn’t owned by any possession, nor motivated to acquire them. He used them till he saw someone who needed them more than he did. His joy was complete in sharing, truly his cup overflowed.
How I pray that all of you have a Harrell in your lives or some Truexes with whom to share. That you too, would come to know that nothing is worth having if you can’t give it away.
Isaiah 58:10 says, “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”