ice cream sandwich A few years ago, a commercial asked, “What would you do?” for a certain ice-cream sandwich. There were people willing to ski the Alps, jump from planes, cross the desert, etc. All for an ice-cream sandwich.

Now, I’ve had that particular brand of ice-cream sandwich. And it’s good. But it’s not THAT good.

And obviously, it was a marketing campaign, not something to be taken literally. But I think it’s indicative of our culture, isn’t it? We are willing to do almost anything just to indulge ourselves for a few moments. We will jump through hoops (perhaps even from planes) for a few seconds of pleasure.

But I wonder what we’d be willing to do so that someone else — someone living in poverty — could have just a few moments of indulgence?

As I was in Guatemala last week, I couldn’t help but think about how overwhelming it must be for the families we visited. The obstacles of poverty never let up.

A child gets sick. A father loses his job. The roof falls apart. The rains flood your tiny home. The groceries run out. Like ocean waves that just keep coming … one after another … after another. There’s no break. There’s no calm. No peace.

“Wouldn’t it be nice,” I thought, “if they could just get a break… even for a few minutes. To not worry about how they’re going to feed the kids tonight. Or where they’re going to find enough money to fix the roof.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just breathe for a moment without another wave of poverty hitting them in the face?”

An ice-cream sandwich is gone in a matter of minutes. The pleasure fades. Not even the taste lingers on. But if we could give a break to someone drowning in poverty, I would bet that it would leave a lasting impression.

At the risk of this sounding like another Compassion commercial, I’m not asking you to sponsor a child right now (though that would be wonderful if you did!). No, I’m simply asking, “What would you do … to give a few moments of pleasure to a person drowning in poverty?”

When posed with this question, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to answer.

Would I quit my job? Would I change the way I eat? Would I be willing to vote a certain way? It’s so much tougher to answer what I’m willing to do for someone else’s pleasure, as opposed to my own.

Now, if you threw in an ice-cream sandwich …

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  1. May 14, 2008
    at 8:55 pm

    I am plagued by that question almost daily and constantly replay that scene from ‘Schindler’s List’ where Oskar Schindler grieves, “I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don’t know. If I’d just…I could have got more.”

    While I am certainly not comparing any achievement of mine to that of Oskar Schindler, I do so often suffer comparable heartache within my spirit. This is not a case of me ‘beating myself up’, but rather the reality of knowing I am always able to do more (and the stigma that comes with such knowledge).

    So, “What would I do?”

    I’ll misquote my old buddy Jackson Brown to answer that one…

    I want to know what became of the changes
    We waited for love to bring
    Were they only the fitful dreams
    Of some greater awakening?
    I’ve been aware of the time going by
    They say in the end it’s the wink of an eye
    When the morning light comes streaming in
    (I’ll) get up and do it again
    Amen.

  2. Tim Glenn
    May 15, 2008
    at 8:21 am

    Very nice, Dave.

    Yeah, the point is not to beat ourselves up over “what else we could’ve done” but rather, to search for those things we are willing/able to do now.

  3. May 16, 2008
    at 9:39 am

    Oh yea–I hear ya loud and clear (*not my intention to suggest any external pummeling). However what I failed to state (clearly) is that I consider it a blessing that my heart condition is what it is. What an honor (it is) to have a heart that aches similarly to that of the Father’s.

    I desire to have the faith of that child who, one-by-one tosses starfish back into the ocean and yet, simultaneously strive to distance myself from the beleaguered adult who sees nothing but a dilemma he considers too big to do anything about.

    cd

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