Luke 2:10 “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of joy that will be for you all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
I love this verse…. God tells us of the joy that comes to all people… all people…. Not just those with good families, or functional homes, or for those who go to church, or for those who pray all the time, or for those who have it all together… no one has it all together, but sometimes we need to remember that Christ came for all people….
Christ Jesus was born naked in a manger, crying to gain his first breath, hungry for his first meal, with all of the hope, expectation, and purpose that God had for him. Just the same…every human on earth was also born naked, crying to gain their first breath, and hungry for their first meal. They were also planned by God, precious in His eyes, and made with hope, a purpose, and gifts.
A lot happens between the birth of a baby and their adult years… a lot of life happens. Sometimes that life is good and sometimes it is horribly dysfunctional and bad. Every baby comes into this world as a brand new life….but we don’t all end up in the same places. There are some things though that are similar amongst all people…. We all want to be loved, accepted, and safe. Today was a great example of how people from both sides of the box were able to minister to each other. Both volunteers as well as those in need today ended up ministering to each other which must have made God smile so big!
With only 2 days until Christmas…we were not sure exactly what to expect. On the way down Keith and I both sensed that God was going to show up in a Mighty Way…. And He did through the incredible love shown by both the volunteers as well as our North First Street Friends. The Kiwanis Club brought sloppy Joes, oranges, chips, and cookies. Volunteers brought hot coffee, Christmas cards with the beautiful salvation message, homemade sugar cookies- frosted and decorated with love, yummy cupcakes to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and more….
There were warm hats, gloves, pants, socks, and hoodies…..toilet paper as well as a few blankets. With canapés up and tables out…. We joined together in prayer to thank the Lord for all of His provision. Food was handed out in abundance because that is how God wants us to love on each other. Smiles, hugs, listening ears…. were also in abundance. . Friends stopped by with wrapped presents for kids…. Matched with a few candy canes made for happy faces.
It is amazing what a special homemade cookie and a hand written card will do to warm a heart. Snow fell throughout the day as we scurried about grabbing the right size of this, or a sack of that…. A truly blessed day!
I would like to share some of the stories that stand out in my mind from today. First, I was very touched to get a Christmas card from one of our homeless friends. The giving hearts out there amaze me. I don’t know how many times I have seen someone share the little that they have with someone else that has less. People will split their food, give their hat, or pass up on a blanket so that someone else can have it that needs it more. Olivia always says, “I bet people wouldn’t believe how much they care and share!”
Today I met a very sweet 23 year old young man who is presently homeless. He helped us throughout the day lifting, carrying things, and tearing down at the end. He asked for a blanket knowing that there was hardly anything thing left at the end. Keith had one more blanket and gave it to him. He turned around and walked over to the fence where an old man was sleeping on the ground. The young man spread the blanket over the old man and tucked it around him. It darn near made Keith and I cry. The young man has nothing and yet he gave what he had for someone else. It was beautiful and so touching. Keith talked with the young man and asked about his past. He was born in Tennessee but has been in the foster care system his whole life. He has been passed around to so many different families but still had a soft heart. Keith asked him how he could still have a soft heart to others after everything he has been through. He said that he has been exposed to so much in life including a variety of different faiths. The young man concluded that the love of Jesus is the only thing that sustains him. Wow! Such a simple answer but such a powerful one!
A young mama drove up in a little pickup truck with her son who looked like he was about 4. He was wearing shorts and she had a very thin shirt and jacket on. Both looked very cold and hungry. In talking with the mom I found out that she has 4 kids and is by herself. Her husband beat her and she finally was brave enough to leave him. She didn’t want her kids to grow up thinking that that was how a family treated each other. She took the kids, the truck, and left. Both afraid and hungry, she asked for whatever we could give her. It was so awesome to see a number of volunteers immediately respond to her need by bringing her food, water, a few clothes, hope, and prayer. The young mother was so touched by response. She cried and told me about how her husband abused her. I hugged her so big and told her how proud I was of her for keeping her children safe. She is a good mama trying her best to make a better life for her family. We told her to come back next week at 2:00 and we will be able to help her more. God’s love encircled her. The Holy Spirit wrapped her with love from so many volunteers… it was so beautiful to see!
A mother and father came and asked if we had any presents. They also have 4 kids who are boys. Keith knew we were out but asked the dad if he could wait while he looked around in the car. The gifts Keith found were not wrapped, but God brought such wonderful things to his attention such as…candy canes, batteries, flashlights, jumper cables for their car, socks, and jackets….. I think God is so cool how He fills the needs of His children in such amazing ways. Maybe not the way we would think, but when we make our requests known to Him, He provides an answer every time!
God showed up today so beautifully. I can’t describe the intensity of the emotions because I don’t understand them totally myself. So much happens in such a short time. So much love and encouragement happens in these short little snippets… each interrupted within seconds by someone else who needs something. But it is during these times that a short hug and a whispered word of encouragement make me so aware of the Holy Spirit working throughout our interactions.
I am so grateful for the baby that was born in a manger so many years ago. I am so grateful for our Father God who gave up His one and only son to come down to earth, to walk among men, and to eventually give His life up for us…. For All of us. I pray peace and joy for all of our North First Street friends as well as for our incredibly generous and faithful volunteers and supporters. Thank you for joining us in this great adventure!!! I can't imagine any gift better than the joy I have when I share the love of Jesus! This is a very amazing life!! :0)