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“If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” ~ Matthew 19:20 (The Message)

I was reading through several blogs yesterday, learning all sorts of useless tidbits about celebrities, random people’s lives, and beauty products I’ll never use, when I stumbled across this photo.

To say it stunned me is much too small of a description.

The story that goes along with the picture is equally arresting.  The starving child in the photo is three years old, and was struggling to reach a food center in southern Sudan when she collapsed.  No one knows what happened to her.  The photographer who took this picture won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for the photograph, and he committed suicide shortly after winning the award, haunted by all the atrocities he had seen during his travels as a photographer.

Thing like this put life in perspective for me rapidly.

I watch my son eat, cheerily inhaling everything I put in front of him, clapping and waving for more.  He eats six times a day, and tucks into every meal with gusto.  I cannot bear to think of him going without food for days on end, and being responsible for struggling to reach a feeding center, like the child in this photo.  To think of how helpless the parents of these children must feel crushes my heart.

My worries are so insignificant and stupid in comparison.  I worry about the fact that I’m not as thin as I was when I got married.  In the big picture, who cares?  I eat healthy and work out, I’ve had a baby, and dealt with the loss of my spouse.  I should be thankful I’m still standing, instead of fretting that the latest fashions don’t look right on me.

I can keep my wealth around me, piling up material possessions one on top of another, shopping to my heart’s content and gleefully going through life focusing only on myself.  Or I can do what Jesus tells the rich young man to do in this verse, and start sending my wealth ahead to heaven by giving to the poor.

There are poor people all around us.  We don’t have to send money overseas to help someone – chances are there is a food bank or homeless shelter in your community that could desperately use your donations or your volunteer hours.  As winter heads our way, look to see all the ways you could help someone less fortunate in your community.  Doing so may mean a dollar less in your pocket here on earth, but treasures in heaven are worth far more and last much longer.