October begins the cooling of the Northern hemisphere. I stumbled upon the temperature in Fairbanks, Alaska this afternoon online. It is 34 degrees! That sounds like winter to me. For most of us fall can bring a welcome relief in the form of very comfortable temperatures. When I created the list of ordinary things to look at in a fresh way this summer I was inspired by a memory.
One year we had a flood that destroyed our hot water heater and furnace. Thousands of people were similarly situated and so it was over a month before we were able to have them replaced. It was late October when we received our new hot water heater and furnace. I was very appreciative of the fact that I doubt there is a month that was better for going without hot water, heat or air-conditioning.
I will always remember how the cold water running from the spigots cooled over the month of October. Early in October a shower with only cold water was hardly noticeable. By the middle of the month everyone in my family had switched to baths augmented by a couple large pots of hot water heated on the stove.
Each fall since I have been reminded of what a luxury hot, running water truly is.
It is easy to take such things for granted in life. In many places clean, running water is an unheard of luxury.
Even cold, fresh, running water is a blessing. Jesus talks about rewards to his followers in Matthew’s Gospel. Sometimes when He talks about drink rewards they are much more than something to drink.
Here He talks about a simple cup of cold water. Matthew records this in 10:40-42.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. Suppose someone welcomes a prophet as a prophet. That one will receive a prophet’s reward. And suppose someone welcomes a godly person as a godly person. That one will receive a godly person’s reward. Suppose someone gives even a cup of cold water to a little one who follows me. What I’m about to tell you is true. That one will certainly be rewarded.”
Rather than tell us that we need pass out Starbuck’s cards to the homeless, Jesus tells us that even if we just hand out cold water to those who are thirsty, God sees our kindness and rewards us. No we don’t earn points toward heaven. None of us could ever earn heaven. Jesus earned that for us on the cross. The reward is God noticing and appreciating our efforts.
One thing that I have done in the past is prepare “Manna Bags” to pass out to beggars. They are gallon-size plastic bags containing a bottle of water, and single-serving size crackers, fruit cup, plastic spoon and fork, easy-open meat (like tuna), hand wipe, paper napkin and a note telling the person of God’s love. We made them at my church. I kept them in my car ready to pass out in traffic when waiting for a light. We had a local man who always had his dog with him, so I kept individual-serving dry dog food also.
Even bottled water to hand out would be wonderful. Try adding a label to the bottles with a word of grace like, “God loves you.”
It is easy for me to become distracted by the “great things” that should be done. Jesus points out in this passage that even the small things are important. A cup of cold water can be important enough for the maker of the universe to stop, perhaps say something like, “That’s my girl!” It isn’t only the grand gestures that matter. Hot water tanks or heaters are wonderful but even a simple cup of cold water is significant.
Every kindness we show to others is valuable. Isn’t life really made up of the small, everyday kindness that we give and receive.