The bucket can hardly contain them all. I held the bucket up, so Scott could see inside.
How many? I asked my husband. Three-hundred? Four-hundred?
More, he said. Maybe 500, he guessed.
The bucket holds an unruly pile of colorful sticks: Twistables, RoseArt and old-fashioned Crayola crayons. There are markers, too: washable, bold, pastel. Some are even scented like berries and bubble-gum.
Once, at our church, someone collecting crayons for kids in Haiti told us that some children there have access to only one crayon at a time. The children consider their crayons so precious, they color down to nubs.
As for the two girls in our home, they want for nothing. They have warm beds, closets full of clothes, a big backyard with a swingset.
And by Haiti standards, they have 498 crayons to spare in their Bucket of 500 Colors.
In first-grade Social Studies, Lydia’s teacher asked the children to consider two categories: “Needs” and “Wants.”
Lydia came home with her list on a piece of white paper, written in old-fashioned No. 2 pencil.
Her needs: food, clothes and shelter. Her wants: a puppy, a new gocart, a goldfish.
It was on this day — the day that she brought home her list — that we headed north for the city, to serve at the Banquet
. There were people in need of a meal, even here in the Land of Plenty, and we were headed to serve.
We, with much … would serve many, with so little.
On the drive there, I asked Lydia if she knew the difference between needs and wants. I mean, did she really know the difference? She said she did. And then, I had to ask myself the same question. Did I know the difference?
On this night at the Banquet — a ministry that feeds thousands of people each year — our church would serve turkey, mashed potatoes, bread and bananas. My youngest and I were posted at the front of the food line, taking tickets. The “tickets” were colored chips, the kind you might use for a game of poker.
“Welcome,” I smiled, taking chips. I dropped each colored chip in a bucket. Red chips, blue chips. Green. White. Cream.
“Beautiful night,” I offered, as little Anna grabbed another chip. “Glad you’re here.”
“Enjoy your dinner.” “Have a great night.” “Great to have you here.” One after another, hungry people came. Holding a hand out for the next chip, I asked the man: “How are you tonight?”
He responded: “I’m alive.”
I took his chip, cupped it in my hand, and thought this simple transfer of a poker chip seemed a bit like a gamble — yet I knew this Truth.
Rich and poor have this in common:
The LORD is the Maker of them all.
— Proverbs 22:2
“I’m alive,” he said again, then shuffled ahead.
I dropped his colored chip in a bucket: A Bucket of Colors …
By night’s end, my youngest and I would drop 348 chips in this Bucket of Colors. Nearly 50 of the chips came from hungry children who had come to dine at the Banquet. One of the little ones left a note: “I like the Banqurt cus it has gud fud.”
Her note was written in crayon.
I wonder: How many crayons in her Bucket of Colors?
Lord, Give me your hands so I can dish out
a helping of your generosity.
Help me shelve my own wants