Irving was on a mission. His mind was disabled with mental illness, but he was convinced if he lived frugally and saved nearly all of his disability checks he could amass enough wealth to eradicate the national debt when he died. So he bought government bonds every month, used recycled paper towels and ate at our homeless center every day.
I invited Irving and another of Breakthrough’s homeless service center guests to my house for Thanksgiving dinner a number of years ago. I prepared a wonderful feast with all of the holiday delights. Irving was a diabetic so I knew he wouldn’t be enjoying pie and ice cream with the rest of us. I found a package of six sugar-free ice cream sandwiches for him. At the end of the meal his eyes lit up as he savored what for him was a rare treat. As he left I gave him the other ice cream sandwiches to take home and he gratefully accepted.
The next day Irving was at my door. He handed over the ice cream. “Here, take these,” he growled, “they make me want to have them all the time.”
As I reflect on Irving’s ice cream I am inspired by his willingness to sacrifice his pleasures for his cause. However misguided he was in his mission, he was committed to it and willing to give up momentary pleasures to reach his goal. When he died in 2000 he left Breakthrough $500,000, convinced that the way to eradicate the national debt is to provide employment opportunities for the unemployed.
Irving’s ice cream has become a symbol for me. What am I willing to sacrifice to advance the kingdom of Christ? What’s your mission? Is ice cream getting in the way?