It Is Well With My Perspective

By: Elizabeth Murphy

The word well, means “to a considerable extent or degree.” In my mind, that means mostly good. It could be better, but for today, it’s good enough. 

What drags me past well and into a pit is to hear about all the heartbreaking happenings in the world and city around me. There is nothing new under the sun, but from listening to the news or reading the paper, it appears there is little good either. This was the thought I had as I left the house with my husband on a sunny Saturday morning to meet a ministry friend. This friend lives in the most dangerous zip code in our state—it’s an inner city area where drugs, guns, gangs, rampant violence, unemployment, and poverty are a way of life. I was nervous, but agreed to go.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived were the police sitting on the porch of the nearest abandoned building, as a large group of rather unfriendly looking men walked down either side of the street picking up trash. They were working together, but you could tell they weren’t enjoying being together.

Into this sad setting walked our friend—smiling, welcoming, and filled with enthusiasm as he took us to meet a local woman who has been feeding this neighborhood since 1969. He calls her “Mamma.” She started with a small restaurant where she used food stamps to buy ingredients for hamburgers. Through hard work and the grace of God, she was able to buy a building that now houses businesses, and a storefront church where a crowd was gathered outside still waiting to be fed. 

She closed the restaurant when she got a job at the county house of corrections. A local woman used to bring in leftover bread from local bakeries to share with the inmates, but when local law enforcement put an end to the practice Mama decided to continue on her own and has been handing out bread ever since.

During our short visit, there was a steady stream of people coming in to greet her. She not only knew their names, but what kind of bread they liked and handed it over with pleasure. It was like watching a family reunion as they told her their latest happenings and asked for prayer. It turns out, the unfriendly group out front doing trash pickup were two rival gangs who agreed to work together at her request. They cleaned up the area so they could have church on the corner the next day.

These men witnessed firsthand the grace of this grandma stepping bravely between them and danger, stopping fights involving guns, and loving them all no matter what. 

Mamma is a willing spirit in the midst of a mess. She takes loaves of bread and hands them out with prayer and presence, so that others can experience the love of Jesus. She praises God for this work and these people and is training others to come behind her in the effort. We asked her what she needed and she said some new clothes to hand out with the bread would be nice, but other than that, she’s satisfied with her bread. 

Bread is used in Scripture as a symbol of God’s provision for His people. It’s what we need to sustain us from day-to-day. That’s what God instructs us to ask for in the Lord’s Prayer when He says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Just what we need, not more. It’s as if He is saying, “I have this, I know what’s next, let’s just stay present today.” 

Mamma’s work is quiet but powerful in a place where few want to go. As we visited with her that Saturday, I saw a woman who never gets too far ahead of herself. She just takes what God gives for the day and does her best with it. She’s not preoccupied with bigger issues, but instead is focused on those at her door, and the simple soft way she can meet their needs. 

This visit challenged me to narrow my perspective to what’s right before my eyes, ask God for guidance in the moment, and be content with the small things. When I do that, it is well with my perspective.

Elizabeth Murphy is a regular columnist for Just Between Us and a member of the JBU Advisory Board. Additionally, she is an author and popular conference and retreat speaker who thrives on encouraging women in their personal journeys of faith. She and her husband, Mike, live in Brookfield, Wis. They have four adult sons.