a reminder on how to live

Posted: September 20, 2007 in money

On my friend Mark’s blog, he’s reminded us that it’s been 10 years since the death of Rich Mullins. What a loss. This reminder has been bringing the homeless/poor community to the forefront of my mind. My wife recently – and probably for the first time ever – was compelled to help a homeless man she encountered. She bought him food from a drive-in and gave him some money. When she gave this to him, he simply yelled out something like “alright!” and took off running. She wasn’t sure what to think about his reaction.

I recently got on the interstate when leaving work, and there was about a 25 year old guy on the exit. Looked more like a cross country hitcher than actually homeless. But he was holding one of those classic cardboard signs. Except his said, in really big letters, “I’m Nice”.

Here’s what I’m eventually trying to get to with this thought. I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve thought how great it would be to live a life like Rich’s life. Very few possessions, traveling the country, commonly befriending people in bars, choosing to live at times among the poorest of people. I’d always heard that Rich never really knew how much money he truly earned. Everything he earned went straight to his home church. Then, he instructed them to pay him as a salary each year the equivalent of what the median income of a single-income wage earner was in the US….which, in the 1990’s, I remember hearing was about $25,000 yearly. He chose to live on $25,000 a year, simply so he could resist the pride, ego, and temptation that come with money. And so he could better identify with the common man.

I always thought that was incredible. For a long time, I really felt drawn toward a life of minimalism. Possibly the mission field in a poor area. Maybe working with some type of organization in poor areas of the US. The few times in my life that I’ve actually done something to truly serve the poor, it was so very gratifying.

I’m saddened of how things have changed. By how important money has become in my life…in my family’s life. How Erin and I squabble about it, sometimes needlessly, mostly because of my issues. How I sometimes feel poor simply because the people I’m around at church or at work have nicer homes or more expensive vehicles than we do. It’s so stupid and petty. Thinking about Rich’s life and what his life meant to me has really got me thinking about how lucky and truly blessed I am. But also how I’ve done little to help those less fortunate. And that must change.

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