Colossians 1:27 "To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory."
God has given us the beautiful mystery...Christ in us.... what a beautiful gift! Think of that, If you have Christ...then He is with you wherever you go...no matter the place, the time, the people you meet. Christ is the Hope of Glory!!! Not the wishing kind of hope like.. I wish I had an ice cream sundae or I wish I could go to Hawaii... No this is the wonderful Anticipation of the Glory of God! The Glory of being before God...The Creator of the Universe! And just think... that Glory is in us... and is a gift to others when we share it.
I always say that we never know from Sunday to Sunday what happens in the hearts of the people on North First Street after we leave. See.. after serving our friends lunch, visiting with them, gathering clothes, sharing stories, etc. we load up the trailer... pick up the last bit of trash...pack into our vehicles...and leave North First Street behind...as if we had never been there to begin with. But the thing is that everyone who participated in the day...goes away changed... a little altered... a little touched... a little different than when they first showed up. The Holy Spirit swept through the line, touched all of those in His path... and left them a little different... different for the better. It doesn't matter if you are spooning hot casserole from a pan, handing out doughnuts, or receiving doughnuts... you know that something very special has happened.
Usually when new people come through the line on North First St., they are distrusting, wary, and just can't quite figure out why we are out there doing what we are doing. It often takes a while before they start to soften. I guess that is part of the fun... you know- watching how the love of Jesus drills through their tough exterior. One family in particular has probably witnessed to much, been disappointed by too many, and left to trust no one except each other. Well today Keith finally broke through the first layer of hard exterior... In his funny way... God's Glory shone.... through his persistent kindness and hilarious sense of humor... he finally got them to crack some smiles... real smiles after about 8 weeks of distrust. This is a step forward.
I tend to be an analytical person by nature and a "Curious George" to say the least... I always want to know "why?" and "how?".... so I can't help but think "How do I know that something special has happened?" Like any person who looks for cause and effect relationships...I look for evidence... evidence that makes me believe that "Something special is happening here." I can go on and on sharing how the Lord has worked on my heart and personally changed me... but I would rather share the wonderful things that people have shared with me... their stories are much more interesting! lol
Chris is a guy who we have befriended over the past year and a half. We have seen him in and out of jail, wasted, drugged out of his mind, dirty as ever, as well as cleaned up and looking kind of together. Today Chris showed up looking filthy....but something was different about him. Today Chris was dirty because he had been working lay asphalt all week and he didn't have any clean clothes. He not only has job but also has a place to stay. Thank You Jesus!! It is a start! Keith asked him what made him want to sober up and get a job. He said, "Because I was sick and tired of going to jail." He has been to jail 6 times in the last 6-9 months and wanted a change.... I believe that Jesus has a whole lot to do with that!!!
Another of our river friends also shared that he had been working asphalt all week... and he had the black goo stained on his legs to prove it. We were able to give him some work glove, pants, a clean shirt, and a lot of encouragement to take with him into his week.
Chedda', a great lively guy who has been hanging around for the last year, accidently left a lanyard with two keys on it in the back of the trailer. He returned to find them and was so excited..."Oh ya.." he said, "I forgot to tell you, these are the keys to my new place. I am not homeless any more!!! I got housing!!" Wow! this is huge! Chedda has been homeless for over a year.. Praise God!!! Needless to say we grabbed Chedda's hands and pulled him into our circle because there was so much to thank God for!! He was more than happy to join the circle!
A lot happens from Sunday to Sunday!! God does so much in the hearts of all of us... things that can't always be seen... but little by little... stuff is happening! Thank You Jesus!!
Another friend came up today to give me a big hug...he so badly wants to be sober... but isn't quite ready. He was kind of drunk... not big drunk ...but it didn't matter to me. I told him that there would be a day when he would hug me and he wouldn't be drunk. He wanted to know why he couldn't kick it. He shared how much he loved the Lord and that he had known the Lord since he was a little boy. My friend shared how he reads his bible and wants to quit... but he can't quite get there. We talked about how alcohol numbs pain and that God wants to heal that pain. Tears streamed down his face as we talked about how God wanted so much more for him. "Baby steps" we talked about how some things take baby steps. God is with him every step of the way. As the tears steamed down his face a smile suddenly shot through the sadness..."I forgot to tell you," he said, "I start school in September!!!" This guy has a full time job now, but has been accepted into YVCC for the fall. He has his financial aid set up and has taken his Math/Reading tests to get in. "Look how God is working in your life!!" I told him. I shared that little by little God would replace the need to numb his pain with the want for a better life! He agreed that his baby steps were moving in the right direction.
God's Glory is invading the hearts of so many....His Glory is changing us all from the inside out... and it is truly AMAZING! As you go about your day... working through your week... remember that God's Glory is in You and that You never know what sharing it will do. It may be something like a little smile or it may be something much larger....like the breaking open of a heart for Jesus!!! Thank You Lord for allowing us to be apart of this wonderful adventure!! Thank You for Your provision and Your protection! In Jesus Holy Name- Amen!!