Active Faith

Doing the Most Good

"Together, as a His body, we can go about, doing the most good." by Doug Spurling

I didn’t really want to go. It was such a waste of time. But here we are. We parked and made our way to the door. A banner hung with that famous shield and the words “Doing The Most Good.” Yeah right, I thought, doing the most good? Maybe out on the street or down at the mission, but here? With us? As much as Jesus loves people, even He wouldn’t show up for this.

My wife and I stepped aside and held the door for an elderly couple. The man pushed a walker; he had a silver beard like Santa, but Abe Lincoln tall. When he got midway through, he stopped and turned in slow motion, his blue eyes pierced mine. All went quiet. I stood there, holding the door and he stood there, holding up the line. After an eternity of three seconds, he nodded and smiled, “Thank you, young man.” It was like he really meant it, from way down deep inside. I could feel it.

His wife stood behind, her hand on his back. She smiled, “My oh my, what a kind gentleman.” She was lovely and graceful and the tremor in her voice reminded me of Katharine Hepburn. I smiled, my wife chuckled, and the two eased on through, as one. We stepped inside where a handful of ladies were handing out tickets, “For the free drawing—thank you for volunteering.” 

Abe and Katharine stopped. “You two young’uns go ahead, me and my gal will tag along behind.” She patted his back and lifted a comfortable smile. I told them we weren’t in a hurry, but he insisted, so we went ahead. We were swept into the flow of people filling plates from long tables filled with food…that could’ve been used to feed the hungry, instead of folks like us, who obviously hadn’t missed a meal in a long, long time—if ever.

The chatter quieted as folks paused to chew in harmony with gospel hymns serenaded by The Volunteer Salvation Army Brass Quartet. We made our way toward a couple of empty chairs. I paused to say “Thank you for your service” to a couple young men in uniform. My wife, Roxy, waited until I sat down. Without saying a word, she reached out and with her hand in mine we bowed our heads and gave thanks. The others at our table must’ve noticed because the talking ceased until we were through. I appreciated that and told them so. 

We’d just started to eat when I noticed Abe with two plates full of food resting on the seat of his walker. His gal was tagging along, carrying two cups of coffee. Suddenly she stopped, her hands started to shake. She held the cups out away from her as coffee splashed, the more it splashed, the more she shook. I dropped my fork and hustled to her asking, “Can I?” Her eyes said, please.

I tossed the cups in the trash and grabbed a stack of napkins. I heard her precious voice tell Abe, “Stand right here—so no one slips.” When I turned around Katharine was right there. I told her I’d take care of it, but she just smiled and held out a trembling hand. I placed half the napkins in her hand, and when I did, she grabbed my hand in both of hers. The world went quiet, like it did with Abe at the door. 

Her trembling stopped…mine began. Her eyes glistened as a smile reached her eyes, “Thank you.” She led the way back to her husband. I slid the napkins back and forth across the spill. Before I was through, the sweet lady, with some effort, was on her knees and wiping too. “Ma’am I can get,” I started to say, but she shook her head and held up her hands. “I want to.” I nodded. Her eyes dropped to her trembling hands as she said to herself, “I should’ve known I couldn’t carry the coffee.” I looked at her, and then her hands. She lifted her shoulders up and down, “They’re not too good for hauling coffee,” she smiled real big, like a child, “but they’re great for ringing bells.” And then she laughed right out loud. It was one of those laughs that make you laugh too, even if nothing’s funny.

I think that’s when I forgot that I didn’t want to be there. Her sweet voice trembled again, “Thank You.” “I’m just glad I could—” I started to reply but then quickly realized she wasn’t talking to me. Her eyes were closed; her hands were folded, “for the kindness of this young man. You are so good to us. Lord.” She looked at me. But spoke to Him. “Do him some good.” 

I kept wiping the floor but felt like I needed to wipe my eyes. She smiled, handed me her napkins, and looked at Abe. With one hand on the walker and the other reaching out, he helped his gal, to her feet. Then, he looked me square in the eye, “Thank you, young man.” He squeezed his eyes shut and repeated those same words. “Do him some good.” 

Back at the table we finished our meal while the Major stood behind a microphone and told us about the hundreds fed and clothed and sheltered, but with every topic the main theme wasn’t about them and what they’d done, but…us. No matter what he was talking about he’d always swing back around to the same recurring theme. “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers, thank you.” The brochure on the table caught my eye, as it read Salvation Army Volunteer Luncheon. Under the red shield were those words, Doing The Most Good. I read that part again, but in my mind, I heard, “Greater works than these shall you do.” I always wondered about that. How could anyone do greater works than Jesus? Healing the sick, opening blind eyes, raising the dead, walking on water, catching a boatload of fish? Yet, He said it, and He’s no liar. But, why now? Why’d those words come to me now?  

I looked around that room filled with folks eating and talking and laughing. A lady delivered fresh coffee to Abe and Kat. A couple of men hauled plates to the trash. A guy pulled out the chair for his pregnant wife and a lady cleaned off a table. A group had gathered around the soldiers, they were shaking hands and patting shoulders. Like an instant replay in my mind, I even watched myself hold the door and wipe the floor.

That’s when it occurred to me, that if Jesus were here, He’d do this. He’d have a meal, for His volunteers; to hold their hand, to laugh, to cry, to look them in the eye, to wait on tables. It’d be just like Him to turn a simple gift into a great big feast for His friends. My eyes wandered around the room again until they landed on Abe and Kat. I saw Jesus, in them, all of them; from the ladies at the door, to the men hauling trash. Even the guy wiping the floor; the guy who had been thinking it was all a waste.

I whispered, “Do them some good.” The words I’d read somewhere from the book of Acts came rolling back, “Jesus went about doing good.” It all made sense, the Greatest Volunteer there’s ever been, volunteered to die—for the salvation of an army. So together, as a His body, we can go about, doing the most good. 

Doug Spurling lives in Sebring, FL and “Doing The Most Good” is based on a true story from his volunteer luncheon.

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