For a few years, we spent every Monday afternoon with a group of compassionate people feeding and loving on some friends and neighbors who were less fortunate than we were. We provided a hot meal, companionship and sometimes a ride to homeless and hungry people in the small town of Hernando in Citrus County.
When we began commuting each week to Tallahassee to serve at City Church on Sundays and lead a community group on Monday evenings, one of our biggest disappointments was not being able to serve those people on Monday afternoons.
Saturday, my wife Cyndi, my daughter Meghan and I stopped for a hamburger on the east side of Tallahassee. We were hot and dirty from moving Ethan into a house for school that starts in a few weeks. I had stuffed some cash in my pocket earlier and as we finished eating, I took it out to fold it neatly and put it back in my pocket. As I did there was a man standing at the counter watching me. The man was neatly dressed – old, dirty clothes but neatly dressed. He took his 78 cent hamburger to his table, spread the wrapper out and slowly ate his dinner.
As Cyndi and I looked at each other, we knew that God once again had provided us a divine opportunity. I walked over to the man and asked him if I could buy him a beverage for his meal. His eyes lit up and he very graciously told me that would be fine. I purchased the man a beverage and some more food and placed it in front of him. He thanked me and smiled and said something to th effect of how nice we were to think of him and hoped that God would bless me.
This man didn’t know that he was my blessing. I never believe in coincidences. I believe God has ordained our paths each day. Some days we refuse to open our eyes and see what He has for us that day. Other days we are more willing to listen to what He has to say and to see what He has in store for us.
I haven’t had a full-time job in 20 months. But I have enough to provide something for someone who has nothing. Because of Jesus.
That interaction caused me to think a lot more about how we view our stuff. On Sunday, Stuart Owens said in his sermon something to the effect of whether we have $10 or $10 million in our bank account and if we obsess over it, it’s still greed.
I pray that God will always allow me to give back to him and to those He places in my path.
Our family spent Christmas day serving some less fortunate people in our community. About 2 1/2 years ago we acted on a passion of ours – feeding the hungry in our communities and it has evolved into various activities and opportunities to serve others. When we began commuting to Tallahassee, we had to stop our involvement with feeding the homeless on Mondays but that didn’t stop us from feeding or helping on other days or times. One of the things I was worried about when we left was who would continue the work we had begun. Sad to say, not many. But the good news here was that a good friend had taken on the task of organizing a Christmas day meal for those who face food insecurity.
I had the opportunity to give a brief devotion prior to our meal and I talked about Presence. Reminding people about the Word becoming flesh and living among us and quoting Jesus who said He didn’t come to be served but to serve. Challenging those that heard to not let Christmas day be the only time the less fortunate saw them – to become a presence in the lives of those who need it. As I was talking with some of the homeless, a man shook my hand and said thank you. When I asked him why, he thanked me for the words that were spoken, saying that too often people try to make themselves feel good by showing up once or twice a year but then are nowhere to be seen the rest of the time. That was my fear when we left that small community – that no one would show up on a regular basis.
We shared a present with one of our favorites yesterday. A man named Derick. I’ve talked about Derick before and our love for him. We gave Derick a new pair of shoes. The last time he had a new pair of shoes was the last time we gave him some! Cyndi and I choose to give to Derick this year instead of to each other – and it was the best present ever!
We love the passion God has given us for the hungry and less fortunate. We love having the opportunity to share some love with people who don’t experience it very often.
I challenge you to act on your passion. Whatever it is. Get involved. Give presence. Give money. Give time. Give. The presence you give can change a life, it can change a generation, it can change generations to come. Why would you not?
Yesterday Cyndi and I went shopping – something we rarely do. It was an interesting day watching people spend a lot of money! Part of our trip was to buy some shoes for a friend of ours – Derick. We met Derick over a year ago when we started helping a local group of people who feed the homeless and hungry at least once a week. Derick is a big man! He’s a year or so older than I am and he’s got some health problems. I’m sure some of his health problems are a result of his living conditions – which is another post. Derick has diabetes. So Derick needs good shoes. Have you ever tried to find a pair of size 15 wide shoes? Not every store carries them! We found some shoes for Derick and we’re going to give them to him for Christmas. As much as Derick needs shoes, we need to give them to him. That’s kind of hard to explain but once you realize how much God has blessed you, any other reaction would be an insult to our loving God.
I have not worked for pay since January 9, 2011. It’s been a long year! But in many ways it has been one of our most satisfying years! Tears came to my eyes yesterday as I reflected on 2011. I know that every season in life passes and when we begin to tell others this story, it will be just what someone, maybe only one, person will need to hear because our God is like that! God has allowed us to use almost our entire savings this year to work with a young church plant, to provide some wisdom and knowledge in areas I’ve already experienced, to lead a community group of some of the most amazing people in Tallahassee, to travel to Cartagena, Colombia and tell people about the love of Jesus, to share our testimony of how God has provided for us all the time – even when it seems our world is falling around us.
We’ve got some decisions to make real soon financially – what does God want us to do next? This thing I am positive about – God wants us to buy shoes for Derick because he needs them and because I still have the money to buy them.