Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- the Lord, who remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches even the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever, you God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord!!!
This is our prayer today and forever, Praise the Lord!!! God is so mighty, so generous, so awesome! Part of this verse was on the sandwich board today on North First St. We have started writing a verse on a white board set at the front of the food line each week on North First St. The Lord is our freedom....and we need it no matter what we look like on the outside. There is something very special that happens when we get to the dirt lot on North First Street. The Holy Spirit rises up in each one of us in such neat ways. The boldness, the love, the words that pour out are of the Lord.
Keith walks down the line and shakes each person's hand one by one. He is able to ask if they want prayer or see how their week has been. The bond between these people and ourselves is so strange when you look at it through earthly glasses. On the surface we look like we are so very different, but every week there seems to be this connection that is so real and so true. Today I had such a cool experience..... I was going around picking up garbage as people sat up against the wall eating their lunch. Many had finished eating and were waiting with their friends to head back from where they came from. Their stomachs were full of warm food and their bags were full of dry clean clothes, toothbrushes, soap, and toilet paper for the week. As I bent down to pick up some garbage by one older gentleman, I asked how his week had been. He was very friendly.... probably about 60-65. We started chatting and he shared about his 4 grown children as well as his experiences in Vietnam. He told me how Napalm had burned part of his inner arm and how he still feels pain from it now and then. This man was not upset or angry... he just said matter of fact that he did what he had to do in order to serve his country. Further in his conversation he shared that his wife had left him a few years ago because he drank too much. Through the process he lost his house and truck, but he shared how he lives down by the river.... just he and his dog ( a very cute fluffy mutt that goes with him everywhere :0). Again.... no anger.... no blame... it's just the way life has gone and where he is now...He shared how he loves the Lord and thanks Him every night for taking care of him.....thanks for the tent he shares with his pup and the warm blankets that cover him at night. And he said that he thanks God that we come down every week to bring food..... This man's peace was evident in his easy, kind manner. He was not harsh or abrasive... just dirty...and in need of a little shave. He said, "Darlin', God is good to me. He takes care of my needs and I tell Him how thankful I am." In this moment, I could see so clearly how similar we were rather than how different... I could see that we were both just two people working through life's curve balls.....leaning on the Lord to sustain us....and feeling the peace of Jesus. It was more than the nice warm sun beating down against my back side...it was peace....it was joy.
Kaecey has a special heart to minister to the prostitutes. There is one specific lady who she loves to visit with. After chit-chatting with her for a short bit, Kaecey asked her how her week has been. She replied, "It's been o.k." Kaecey followed up by saying, "O.K. well I love you and hope that this week is better." Next thing Kaecey knew....the young woman burst into tears. What seemed rushed and so normal to Kaecey touched this young lady so much. I don't know her story... but by her tiny thin 0 waist and her messed up teeth/sores on her face...I can only guess that she is addicted to either meth or heroine. She is not so different than you or me....her heart wants to hear those words as much as any of us..."I love you..." She told Kaecey how much she looks forward to Sundays....it is not because of us...it is because of the Jesus she encounters. Isn't that what we all desire??? To be loved...to be cared about....to be special...Thank You Jesus for continually showing me how similar we all are... and how much we truly desire You!!!
David came out today. David is a homeless guy who I have talked about before. He is tattooed all over his face and neck.... he walks with spastic jerks and has a hard time getting his words out... in the past David has shown up partially dressed and extremely high, but today David came out and was very coherent. He had such a beautiful smile and kind soft blue eyes. David's spastic jerking motion when he walks is caused by Huntington's Disease...I am sure that he has damaged his body a lot with drugs which he uses now as a pain killer when it gets bad. David stayed for prayer at the end. As I looked around the circle of people holding hands with heads bowed, I caught David's eye...he had such a peaceful smile and joy on his face. It was the joy of Jesus....the joy of a peace that goes well beyond the circumstances that surround him....Huntington's....limbs that don't work correctly....the mission as his home....and very cold temperatures that don't seem to care whether you have a home or not. David stayed with us until the very end... as a matter of fact he was the last person that I saw heading back towards the sidewalk as I drove away. Olivia said that it looked like he was dancing as he walked off...but really it was just from his muscles spasming and jerking under his worn jeans. Thank You Lord for setting us free! Thank You Lord for helping me to see that I am more like David than different from him...He wants similar things as I do... love, acceptance, safety, care.....
An older mama and her daughter have been coming down to North First for probably about 4 months. The mom looked older than she probably was...I would guess about 55. She works hard...long hours so that her daughter can go to school and get her degree. But since the fruit season ended a few months back...she has been desperate to find adequate housing. Today she stood across the table from me with a big beautiful smile. "We have a place now!" exclaimed the daughter, "We finally have a place." This mama is no different than me.....she wants her daughter to have a good life....she is not afraid to work hard for it....and now that she has a safe place for her daughter...her face shown with a restfulness that must have been from relief! We thanked the Lord for His provision and celebrated with big hugs across the table.
In life... we try so hard to achieve...to separate ourselves out with distinction from the crowd...to stand out as a "superior" person....God wants us to take our eyes off of ourselves and to look up to Him first and then to look around at humanity around us. When we embrace God's love and let Him heal us and fill us... then we can start looking around at the world to see that we are so much more alike then we ever could be different. God asks us to look up at Him daily.. to keep our eyes on Him and our ears tuned to His voice so that we can hear what He has to say about the people around us...and to my surprise I heard and saw some very beautiful things in people today that I might not have seen with my own senses.
Thank You Jesus for being my everything. Please help me through my week to experience life with eyes more like yours, with ears more like yours, and with a heart more like yours. You alone are my peace....You alone are my strength....You alone are the Most High!!! In Jesus Holy Name..... Amen!