It was one of those rare days when I was able to meet a friend for lunch at Whataburger. Due to a crazier-than-usual schedule, I brought along my seven-year-old son. As I visited with my friend, I did not realize that my son had dropped some of his French fries on the floor. He pointed them out to me, and I quickly responded with a hasty, “Don’t worry! We will clean them up later.”
The elderly woman sitting next to us, however, saw those wasted fries in a much different light. She waved at me with her petite hand, and in a language that I did not understand, but with gestures that I could comprehend, asked if she could have them. I smiled and nodded, not understanding why she would have an interest in the ruined food.
Then she gathered the fries off of the floor, took a pair of scissors out of her pocket, and began cutting the fries into tiny pieces. She pointed to the windows and somehow managed to express that she now had food for the birds.
This encounter has stuck with me as I realize the difference between what she and I saw that day. I saw a nuisance - something that had to be thrown away. She saw potential – a gift that could creatively be used to care for others. I saw loss. She saw the providence of God, even for the birds of the air.
I am reminded of the teaching of Jesus, as he said to the crowd, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet Your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) We tend to worry about not having enough for our bills, our retirement, or our children’s college fund. All too often, we focus our gaze on scarcity. Jesus calls us to see the abundance of what God has given us and to respond with gratitude.