What Is The Need?

Robert Harwell

King size bed, comfy pillow, linen sheets, warm blanket, heat set to 70 degrees.

Sleeping bag, rolled up t-shirt, worn out jacket, gloves and socks, no electricity.

I remember one of my first trips to a major city. Chicago was the place. Cold was the temperature. I vaguely remember a museum filled with tons of classic cars from hit movies. It was ok. I vaguely remember Navy Pier and the Centennial Wheel. It was shut down due to snow. I vaguely remember another museum featuring the ‘Body Worlds’ exhibit. It was kind of gross.

We did a lot on that trip, but I can only remember one thing clearly -- Pizza Uno!  Ah yes… the warm building from the steaminess of authentic deep-dish pizza. The brown color seats of our packed in tight booth. The dim lighting of a mob-like scenery. Oh, and of course… the pizza itself in all of its deep and saucy splendor. Makes you want to head to Chicago doesn’t it?

I actually don’t even care for deep dish pizza -- too much bread, too much sauce. The lighting actually made it very hard to read the menu. We had no room to move and the booth color scheme was way outdated. Plus, they should have really considered some ventilation in that joint for all the steam -- suffocating! Yes, the details are clear, but no it wasn’t all that hype. However, what took place after the meal left a forever impact on my life.

I stepped out of the restaurant, leftover box in hand (I told you, too much bread!). Our direction was to the right, but my eyes went left. I saw a man standing there in the cold. Ratty clothes, worn out shoes, and a scruffy beard. He was asking for money, but I was just a kid… my Velcro wallet just carried a few baseball cards at most! He maybe could have scored a few pennies from those, so I gave him something more practical instead -- that warm, steamy, authentic deep-dish pizza. He smiled and greeted me, I smiled and greeted him. That man had no home. No money. No car. He had nothing but the clothes on his back. I couldn’t meet those needs, but I gave what I could. That one simple moment changed my outlook on life forever… though, it took some time.

As life went on, there was always that thought in the back of my mind to care for those in need. I volunteered at the local Care Center, I packed shoe boxes for kids overseas, heck… I even wanted to start a homeless backpack ministry in college! But take a ride in the car with me and hear my thoughts on those people standing at the intersection with a sign saying they need money or food. My thoughts? “GET A JOB! McDonald’s is hiring right down the road!”
Wowzers. Even typing that out makes me cringe. I saw a need but was lost in my own prideful nature. My heart was torn between good and evil.

It wasn’t until later in my life that God really started to shape my heart to be completely FOR those in need. How? By constantly showing me that I AM IN NEED. Yes, at times a physical need, but those all fail in comparison. My need is of a SAVIOR. Time and again God makes it clear that I am nothing and He is everything! I am no better than that person on the street -- I could very well be there myself. I am always in need. In need of JESUS.

So, whether you give away a pizza or hold out your hand for more, remember that we are all the same -- sinners in need of saving.

Let the outpour of Your LOVE and the overflow of Your GRACE run deep.
Let YOUR light shine and YOUR presence be made known.
Let ALL of the glory be Yours.


David Harwell - April 8th, 2021 at 11:48am

I am simultaneously filled with pride in Robert’s writing and conviction from the wisdom and love in his heart.

Josh - April 12th, 2021 at 9:53pm

WOW! So often we are so consumed with our own life that we are not looking for those around us that are in need. When we are selves are the ones in need. Definitely a needed word Robert.

Mattea - April 18th, 2021 at 10:53am

Your words ring true in my heart. I am also torn between good and evil. I have the very best outward intentions, but I have the same internal conversations. Thanks for your words.