Psalm 46:1-11 God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble. And so we need not fear even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble! There is a river of joy flowing through the City of our God- the sacred home of the God above all gods. God himself is living in that City; therefore it stands unmoved despite the turmoil everywhere. He will not delay his help. The nations rant and rave in anger- but when God speaks, the earth melts in submission and kingdoms totter into ruin.
Today on North 1st St we called it Desperation Sunday because it is the last Sunday in the month and yes… they were desperate. The line snaked out towards the sidewalk as we organized the food line in anticipation for some hungry folks. People continued to find their way across the street or down the road towards the smell of piping hot stew. People were patient in line and didn’t appear overly desperate, however there was an overall feeling of agitation and neediness. People seemed to be in “survivor mode” today.
I love how the bible states that even if the world blows up, and the mountains crumble into the sea…God is our refuge and strength. Before serving, Keith called everyone to prayer. He spoke of the refuge in Christ and how He is available to anyone who is interested in receiving them into their hearts…. Nobody answered the invitation that we were aware of, but we sure could sense the presence of the need for God’s refuge and strength as well as his joy!
At the end of each North 1st St. adventure, Keith, Olivia, Kacey, and I usually stand around in the kitchen and swap stories of the day because we have all seen and experienced North 1st from a different angle… we spoke to different people, and s aw different things. It is one of my favorite parts of the day because I love hearing everybody’s adventures. The overwhelming agreement today was that a lot of people were a bit mean today…. Mean, desperate, hungry??? If someone set their bag of clothes down, it was likely to be stolen today compared to other days. Why? I don’t know… but it was happening. We brought some extra food for a family and after Keith gave the food to the guy, he said, “Is that it?” Are you kidding??? “Is that it?” My flesh was insulted and put off…. Did he have any idea how much time it took me to make the food that we gave him??? but I think it was just a response of desperation… He might have been thinking- is that it because I have a big family to feed…. Who knows. There were people who wanted to take clothes from others… to get what we were handing out to someone else… to grab and possess.
Not everyone fit this M.O. however, there were a lot of older men who seemed to genuinely appreciate the food and clothes. One man in particular said that the stew tasted just like how his mother and grandmother used to make it. I was so glad that he could receive that comfort today. It made me smile. Another little girl made Keith’s day complete… She was so happy because her mom found her some pants, shoes, socks, shirts, and a jacket that fit…. She could be just like all of the other kids her age. The part that grabbed my heart that she was a 3rd generation homeless child. Her mom and grandmother were there and were also homeless… 3 generations living without a place to call home, without a bed to call their own. Lord God, even when the mountains crumble into the sea and the world explodes…. You are our strength and our refuge… Your joy is a river flowing through the city- Thank You Jesus!!! You Lord can break the cycle… You are their hope!!!
Glenn was in a downward spiral today. He always shares with us that he is a paranoid schizophrenic… Glenn has been very open about needing help, but today in particular Glen was manic, Glenn’s world was crashing. A shadow of stubble covered his cheeks and chin. He appeared disheveled, agitated, and desperate. He wanted time to talk out his frustrations. Because he had missed 2 weeks of medication, he wasn’t thinking or processing clearly. Glen’s thoughts seemed to weave in and out of each other- never actually ending, just hooking onto a new worry or frustration. The problem is that the medicine helps him to think clearly, but if he doesn’t take it then he becomes irrational, and when he is irrational he thinks that he can’t afford the medication- which he totally can, but he is too engulfed in worry and fear to spend the money on the prescription. Henceforth… the cycle continues to spiral….. down….. Lord Jesus I pray that Glen will be able to grab onto Your place of refuge and that he will find strength in You!!!
Last week Keith promised an elderly Hispanic gentleman that he would find a Spanish bible for him. So today we remembered at the last minute that we needed to find a Spanish bible. I went up to Inklings Bookstore and sure enough… there was a Spanish bible (Thank You Lord!) and it only cost $4.95. WOW! Now that is a great deal…. So I asked for 5. Lol! Fast forward to North 1st street and sure enough Keith found more people that wanted a Spanish bible. One man in particular warmed my heart so much. Keith asked him if he needed a Spanish bible and he replied, “No thank you, but he needs one,” pointing to his friend standing next to him. Keith look to the man next to him and asked him if he wanted a Spanish bible…. “Oh yes, I need the bible because I read to him.” The gentleman pointed over to his friend who had just said no to the bible. The first man couldn’t read, but he knew his friend needed the bible so he could read it to him. What a wonderful friend to have. Dear Lord… thank you so much for standing unmoved amongst all of the turmoil. Thank you Lord for your strength and your refuge…. When You speak… I pray that we all listen!!
We never know week by week what it will be like on North 1st St. but what we do know is that God stands unmoved, that His promises never change, that God never leaves us nor forsakes us, and that God is now and will forever be our refuge and our strength. Lord I am humbled and so thankful that we get to serve you. Thank You for turning our fishes to loaves and for taking a desperation Sunday and turning it into "enough" because Your "enough" is always "enough"! Amen! :0)