Prescription for Doing (Life) Part 3 – See Another

Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

— Mumford & Sons, “Below My Feet

As each small bag passed through my hands to the next volunteer, I thought of each man, woman, and child, in some other country, who will open these packages. They will be happy because it’s one more day they can eat. I am happy because I can help.

barefoot on dirt, grounded, eyes to serve

I was in San Diego at a technology conference, and the host had partnered with Stop Hunger Now to build meal kits. In assembly line fashion, we held open plastic bags, filled them with a combo of rice & soy meal with vitamins, and boxed them for shipment around the world.

But the men, women, and children I saw eating this food were part of my imagination. In reality my eyes only saw bags of dry food passing through my hands, and my ears only heard rice sliding through plastic funnels and volunteers small talking about where they were from and what kind of companies they worked for and what they did for fun.

Certainly they were humbled and excited to give of their time for such a cause. I could see it on their faces. Except for one slightly overweight guy who, trying to be funny, had the audacity to say, “No wonder all those people can stay skinny. All they eat is rice and soy meal!” Nobody laughed.

Aside from the jerk giving so much of himself to pour cups of rice while scoffing at world hunger, who sets the example when we serve? Is it I, leading the way by serving with my hands, who after my allotted volunteer time can fly back to my comfortable home and write about this event for others to read and also think highly of me for giving of my precious time?

Or is it they, the starving ones, who are grateful for the small packages they will receive, no doubt giving much greater thanks for it than the potato chips and Oreo cookies I casually nibble while slouched on my couch, skipping past feed-the-children infomercials to satisfy my own appetite for the next satellite-fed television station? Ah, and yes. There lies the source of the men,  women, and children I had thought about, the images in my mind of the malnourished ones.

“I see you,” say the Na’vi people to one another in the science fiction movie Avatar, the words representing the special care taken to be genuine with others, to not only be aware of them, but to know them. To see them. I’m reminded that God gave us two eyes and two ears—four receptors for seeing and listening—as opposed to the two hands we have for doing (and the one mouth we have for speaking).

Do our eyes need a lesson in serving before our hands are put to the task of doing?

Are we grounded enough to recognize who and what is right in front of us (or on the other side of the globe) and why we do the things we do? Or do our intentions only go as far as our own hands and those who would witness what these hands are doing?

What gains more? How much we serve, how we serve, or simply that we serve? Maybe the right answer is in why we serve.

Doing things for the right reason should start with that question. Why am I doing this? Maybe others are best served by first seeing them, before we pour the rice. What our hands do after that then becomes a by-product of an authentic heart, which will multiply both in blessing and in those willing to do the same.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4

This is part 3 of 3 of the “Prescription for Doing (Life)” series. Click here to read Part 1 – Do Something You Enjoy and Part 2 – Do Something New.


Featured image by FrankOWeaver via Wikimedia Commons. Used with Permission.

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