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.
We have been a transitional phase of our lives for about 19 months. Wanting to leave the area but tethered to a home here like thousands of Floridians. The housing market is great if you’re looking to buy a home. Not as great if you are looking to sell a home! We listed our home with a friend who is a realtor – nice gesture but no action! When the listing expired we decided to try to sell it ourselves. While we were a little discouraged, we were convinced there was/is a family out there that will be perfect for our home – God just hadn’t shown it to them yet! Long story short, it appears we will have a contract to sell our house in a few days! God’s timing is certainly not my timing but I have got to be convinced it is so much better! Of course, now the other part of the mystery equation is what I will do as gainful employment and where! We have devoted a large part of our lives during this phase to serving at City Church Tallahassee and want to continue to be where God wants us to be. City Church has been able to provide me some part-time income and will soon begin providing us health insurance – both we are very grateful for! I still need to find something to supplement that and I’m convinced that God will either show me where in Tallahassee or provide for me where He wants us to be!
While my housing comments seem to be about good timing, I received a text yesterday from a friend that wasn’t good at all. My friend shared with me he was now counted in the ranks of the unemployed. Terminated with no cause given. The day before a holiday. That just sucks. No nice way to describe it. But I’ve got to believe that God has something better planned for my friend. And I hope he will believe that soon. Our timing is never God’s timing, even though we like to think we have some control over things.
Today is the 4th of July – Independence Day in the United States of America. I’m grateful for the people who decided to do what they did to make this nation. I don’t worship them or this nation. There are some great things about being an American. There are some great things about other countries as well. If we’re not careful we can make our patriotism an idol in our lives. I’m more excited about the freedom I have in Christ!
New International Version (NIV)
Freedom in Christ
5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Random thoughts about life today – some of these could be blog entries, but I don’t have the time right now!
We have received an offer to buy our house! This is good but the downside is I don’t really know where we will live when we sell it! We have options – which is always a great thing! In fact another set of friends told us this week we could move in with them for a while if we need to/want to/need a change of scenery! Now if I could only secure that “job”!
Christ followers are not the same as “Christians”. This explanation will take a long time so I won’t write here but will leave the thought out there that one requires ongoing action while the other somehow has only implied an action.
My wife is amazing! She has continually worked while being less than 100% since January 2, 2012! Her massage therapy business can be hard on her physically but she has been determined to work through this. I am lucky she chose me!
We had two neat desserts this week! Cyndi made individual apple cobblers one night that were amazing! Last night we had fresh strawberries with whipped cream on fresh cake! Again, I am one lucky man!
Looking for work is not as easy as it seems – even with internet job boards. I would love to find a way to make the job search more meaningful for people and make the search more responsive.
Knowing we won’t be at our next community group meeting has me already feeling a little blue. I really enjoy the opportunity to experience life with our small group! Preparing for that group each weed has been a good outlet for me!
What has been on your mind this week?
God has a tremendous sense of humor! He also allows lots of scenes to play out in our lives to give us the opportunities to react and live how He has instructed us to. Here’s a great case in point:
If you’ve read this blog before chances are you know I have been unemployed since January 2011. God has provided and for that I am thankful! While I have been searching for employment, luck has not been with me! A new friend this year has been praying with and for me in this search. He has been very encouraging along the journey. So much that as a job became available in his organization, he encouraged me to apply. And while he couldn’t guarantee anything, he was on the interview committee! Interview day came and I had a good session with the three men on the panel. Granted I didn’t have some specific experience they preferred but I did have a boat load of the general experience they required. As the weekend came I was a little bummed that I had not heard the results yet but went on about my duties. Sunday I led an orientation session after each of our morning services. Before I could start the first one, my friend on the interview panel came up and told me someone else was offered the position. Timing is usually everything and this really wasn’t the best!
My reaction could have been extreme at this point. It would not have been unheard of to become discouraged, angry, disappointed, bitter, (you fill in the adjective). But God provided me with calmness and a sense of direction as I was able to continue with my volunteer job and my orientations went very well.
The next day I texted a friend about my discouragement in this job search. Later I apologized for whining to him and acknowledged that God has been very faithful to us and for that I am grateful. His response to me is one that I hope I remember for a long time – simple but so true: “God is good all the time. All the time God is good. But life is real and sometimes it stinks. And at times we just don’t know what to do.” That’s not just pastor talk, that’s friend talk. And I love him for saying those words to me.
I’m convinced this is another specific example of God providing me the opportunity to add to large inventory of experiences that I will be able to share with someone who needs to hear about it. While I don’t like the outcome of the interview, I am grateful that God allows me to see a bigger picture. While sometimes I think this is all about me, I really know that it’s not. It’s really about Him!