Debbie McDaniel Christian Blog and Commentary

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The Life-Changing Power of Giving to Others

  • Debbie McDaniel

    Debbie's HeadshotDebbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, and mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page for daily encouragement in living…

  • Updated Nov 13, 2015

We’d driven by for weeks. Noticed them there. People living in simple hand-made box shelters, all that they owned sitting in a pile, under a bridge along a busy stretch of road.

“Mom, do they live there?” my daughter asked when she’d noticed. The images had left an ache in her 8 yr. old heart. We’d started a conversation then, which continued on, every week. About the poor, about the homeless, about those who need help. Over time the conversation shifted — becoming more about those, like us, who could offer help. Those, like us, who held the hope of Christ.

Conviction nudged my heart every time I drove by.

So one day we did something different on our normal drive by this little downtown spot. We stopped.

We met these dear souls in the freezing cold. Put faces to names. Passed out warm blankets, hot coffee, some food, a few Bibles. We talked for some moments, my husband knelt with them and prayed. Taking time, we stared straight into lives that held hard knocks and hurt, faces with deep lines and dark eyes — and we saw gratefulness, smiles, and shining glimmers of hope.

Got back into the car, and began to drive away, all five of us real quiet, like we’d just experienced something so huge inside our hearts and we didn’t quite know what to say. My 9 yr. old son finally broke the silence. In a low whisper, Noah's words spilled out, simple but so true, “Um, that felt good.”

Yes. Such perfect words. Life-changing, heart-changing, wake-up call words. Stopped in our tracks, made suddenly aware again of what matters most in this life. Looking right into the plight of those who need help. Realizing we are blessed, for deeper reasons than just to have happy, full lives. We are blessed, so that we can bless others.

All of that — feels good.

Down deep.

To the soul.

I thought about all the times I’d been too busy to care. Life in a mad rush, swirling with activity, places to go and things to do. It’s easy to get caught up on that endless spinning wheel, the rat race of life, and sometimes miss the moments that should matter most in our days.

It’s not always convenient to show love, and sometimes it looks messy, or risky. But it’s the example Jesus gave us all through His life as He walked this earth, and it’s the one I so desperately want to follow and teach to our kids. I’m praying that He’ll keep showing me how, one step at a time — that He’ll keep helping me to remember to slow down, and make time to give, and show care for those who need help.

About a week after the time we’d first met our new friends under the bridge, we were driving by their spot while heading home on our normal route. Gracie was staring out the window, face planted against the glass, looking hard to see them. She yelled out, “Hey, Mom, look! He’s reading the Bible we gave him!”

I looked back, and there he was. Sitting up, under big, warm blankets. Old, worn, weary face, intently focused on reading God’s Word.

We just smiled so big. And still kept thinking of it many days later. I mean of all the times we could have driven by, it was like God whispering to us, “Keep on giving.”

His reminder so clear, that what we do, it really matters.

Because as we’re obedient to his call to keep giving, to keep showing up to serve others, it may fill a hungry stomach, or bring encouragement to one who is needy. But it may also make the difference in someone else’s eternity.

Overheard young voices planning what to give next . . .

“Mom, where do the others live? We need to find them . . .”

Little things can make such a big difference.

In another soul, but in us too.

Maybe that's why Jesus said these words, "...It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35  Because He knew, how great and powerful it is - to give.

Lives changed.

Hearts inspired, toward action.

“You are the salt of the earth . . . you are the light of the world . . . let your light shine.” Matthew 5:13-16

Grateful for the huge love of Christ, given freely towards us in so many ways, every single day. We have much to share in this life. Let's not waste our days, so busy with things that really don't matter. May we never forget this message of hope we carry within us. May we share it and pray it forward with deep compassion and love, making every opportunity count, for Him.

"...Christ in you, the hope of glory." Col. 1:27


(This post first appeared at

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. 
Find her also at Twitter.