“Hey, I’m going home to chew my gum,” he yelled from the bus as my wife and I entered the resale store where we were vendors. I was clueless, although it didn’t surprise me that she would connect with someone by using gum. Only later did the story unfold.
While working at the store, my wife would occasionally see this physically and mentally incapacitated young man from the Adult Day Care Center parading around in his wheelchair and chewing gum. “Where is my gum,” she would ask, and he would smile.
One day he came into the store with a nurse. “Where’s my gum,” my wife asked again. Just a smile. “What’s your favorite kind?” she queried. “Spearmint,” he said excitedly. “Like this,” my wife said offering him a piece from her purse. “Would you like it?” “Yeah!” he exclaimed with sparkling eyes.
As he rode his wheelchair down the sidewalk the following day, my wife presented him an entire pack. With a huge smile and a “Wow,” he wheeled off and told everyone about his gift. It finally dawned on me why we spend so much time on the candy aisle while in the grocery store. The gum and candy are a significant part of my wife’s ministry.
When the disciples became angry because a woman poured an expensive bottle of perfume on Jesus’ head, he reminded them, You will always have the poor among you (Matthew 26: 11 NLT). And the lonely, the elderly, the young, and the mentally challenged.
So I suppose the next time we visit the candy aisle, I’ll keep my mouth shut about how unhealthy it is and how much it costs. After all, if Jesus said a cup of cold water would be recognized when given in his name, I suppose a piece of chewing gum will do too.
Prayer: Father, open our eyes to see how we can use even the smallest of items to give others a cup of cold water.
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