"No," said the woman, "Come over here." This time a little more stern, but still with a friendly smile.
Mira's hesitation was understandable for someone who was new to the group. We were standing on a crowded sidewalk in Los Angeles, in an area known as Skid Row. While we were told it had been a "calm day" out on the street, we had already seen illegal drugs, domestic violence, gambling, and heartbreaking poverty.
The thing is, Mira* wasn't new to the group, I was. In town for a long weekend with my brother, I had contacted the Dream Center to ask for a tour and to see if I could serve anywhere. They gladly let me go to one of the saddest and scariest places in L.A. and hand out hot dogs and cold water.
Maybe Mira was just being careful, but when the woman called to us for a third time, I walked right over and stood just a few inches from her. She smiled and said, "What do you call a dog with no legs?"
Confused, I asked, "What?"
"What do you call a dog with no legs?"
"I don't think I know."
"It doesn't matter what you call him, he ain't coming!" When I laughed she pointed at Mira and told me, "Now you go tell her that joke. Tell her it is from Mama. That girl needs to smile more. Her smile is a gift! She needs to use it!"
That's when it dawned on me what was going on. Mama saw us out there ministering to people on Skid Row and Mama thought maybe Mira needed a joke to remind her to smile.
I told her thank you and then added, "Now I have one for you."
"How do you know when a farmer is good at his job?"
"I don't know," she said thoughtfully, "When he brings in a lot of crops?"
"How about when he's out-standing in his field?"
Mama's grin was huge. "That is a good one. I'm adding that one to my arsenal!" she declared as she put out her hand for a fist bump. As I walked away with the group, glancing over to see Mira working a little harder to keep a smile on her face, Mama called out to us, "Have a blessed day!"
What an awesome reminder Mama was!
It doesn't matter what you have or don't have.
Use what God gives you to serve others.
Whether it is an arsenal of jokes or a simple smile, God wants you to use it to touch people. And if you aren't using it, He just might send someone to remind you. :-)
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command you, saying, you shall open your hand wide unto your brother, to your poor, and to your needy, in your land.