1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether we eat or drink, or whatever you do....do it all to the Glory of God!"
It is almost 9:00 and I am just sitting down. I feel hot, sweaty, stinky, and tired.... I feel "fussy" like I want to cry. I don't know why I always react that way when I am really tired, but I revert to a 3 year old that is long overdue for a nap! I bet the disciples felt that way at times...I am never tired of serving the Lord.... I am just physically and mentally "tired" but let me back up to the start.
This morning we got a call that we could not go to the Mission to set up our tables and canopies like we usually do because there was a big semi- in the spot that we usually set up. They thought it would be out of there by 12:30. We loaded the trailer and rigs with the clothes, tables, canopies, toiletries, water, etc. that normally go down and we headed down early so that we could set up. Blessedly we did not have to worry about the food though because it was the weekend that the Mormon church was supplying all of the food. On the way down to North First we received another phone call saying that the semi was still there and that we wouldn't be able to set up our tables. There is no way that God was going to allow that detail to de-rail our efforts. We told the guy that called Keith that we would just set up in the lot next to the mission like the good old days. Needless to say... we prayed fervently that the Lord would help work out the details because this was the biggest weekend of the month.....
By the time we pulled up to the empty dirt lot a long line of people had already formed from the road out to the middle of the lot anticipating the set up of tables and food. "Whether you eat or drink... do it all to the glory of God!" No one said that ministry is nice and neat.... no sometimes it is totally relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and being flexible enough to re-organize about 25 volunteers, their cars, tables, food, and a massive number of homeless people into an organized event that flows with order and efficiency in a timely manner so that the people who have been waiting out in the hot sun don't pass out from the heat. There are a lot of fragile people out there whose health is very compromised. Life of addiction and poverty is very hard on a person's body as well as their spirit.
But... "Whether you eat or drink... do it all to the glory of God!" The Lord has helped me learn to step under my husband's lead during times like this. Can I whip out a line of orders and get people moving??? Absolutely... but there needs to be only One Chief...so we promptly took Keith's lead and set up as quickly as possible. As we were setting up I realized that we were not going to have even close to enough cups and it was way too hot to not have drinks ready to go so I quickly took off to the local Fred Meyer to grab cups and the back pack that I had been promising a man. (Yes, my disorganization helped increase the intensity of the day a bit). It was probably good that I left because I had time to just pray... pray for the volunteers, pray for the homeless people, pray for Keith who was re-directing a lot of people in a little amount of time. I just prayed....
When I look back at the day I can see how we prayed before, during, and after our 90 minutes of organized chaos. Jesus was there walking amongst the least of these....He worked through all of us. Sure there were complaints from the volunteers about the thousands of goat heads, the heat, and the huge number of people but that is such a small price to pay for the beautiful things that happen during the 90 minutes. The line of people did not end for about 75-90 minutes. It was solid....that means that lots of tummy's were filled. There were jeans and clean shirts distributed as well as lots of love.
One particular family lives across the street in the Sunshine Motel. There is a mom, dad, and three children ages 8 to 17. The kids are set up to go to high school, middle school, and elementary in the fall. The mom was so thankful that her kids had food in their bellies. This family has come on Sundays for over a year. They were usually hard, emotionless, and closed. Over the past month, they have softened and softened with Keith. Today he was able to share with them how Jesus has changed his life. "It's all about Jesus..." Keith explained. By meeting their physical needs, Keith was able to be in a position of encouragement and ministry. He told the 17 year old girl that she would finish high school and he asked her about college. He continued to encourage her that by going to YVCC or any college that she would be able to get out of poverty and have a future. He went on to tell her that someday she would have kids and would bring them down to North First Street to show them where she came from.... how the Lord met their needs right where they were at.... and how He helped them work their way out. The mother took off her sunglasses and wiped the tears from her eyes. She hugged Keith and just as she let go.... the 17 year old girl who was the hardest and most closed of them all... leaned over and gave him a safe side hug. She had a smile on her face and tears in her eyes... obviously hurt and damaged in the past.... making it huge step after a year.... to flash a small smile and reach out in a small (but huge) demonstration of thanks.
"Whether you eat or drink... do it all to the glory of God!!" Every week whether a heavy load or a light load... we do it all to the glory of God!! For some reason being out in the empty dirt lot made things look different.... out in the open you could see the whole line of people standing patiently holding their grocery sack ready for a homemade lunch. You could see the depravity.... the need....the poverty.... the struggling. It just seemed to stand out more in the field than it did in the parking lot of the mission. But you know what??? God showed us once again that He is big enough for all of it. He can handle the numbers, the needs, the pains, the change of plans, the varied personalities... he can handle it all! And you know what??? He did.... the last scoop of food went to the last few people. We had so so much wonderful food, but as the line continued to flow... so the food most rapidly did go!!! (Yes, I do like Dr. Seuss :0) I do have my own issues lol! )
Enough food.... enough clothes... enough volunteers, and enough grace that hopefully our volunteers will understand that the goat heads that they are probably still digging out of their shoes... is just a small cost of serving Jesus!!! "Whether you eat or drink.... or pick goat heads... do it all to the glory of the Lord!!!" But fear not! It is worth it!!!
Kaecey spoke with one of our older women who comes down to North First. Kaecey asked how her week has been. She replied..."It's a living hell." but because we are "church people" in her eyes she quickly said, "No not hell." Kaecey was awesome... she told her that it is totally o.k. Sometimes life on earth feels like hell. Life is not easy. This particular woman has a couple sons in their early 20's. She had to kick them out of her apartment because they wanted to pimp her out. They wanted to prostitute their own mother so that they could buy their drugs. They were not happy with her and ended up selling a lot of her things. As a young girl, she was raped by her father. This woman has definitely experienced a life that is not easy however, she told her Pastor "I put my sons on the Internet." "You mean on a prayer chain?" he asked. "Yes!" She told Kaecey, "I know that it will be o.k. because I have a heavenly father. Will you pray for me?" Jesus is big enough for all of it!!! Jesus is big enough for our smallest problems all the way up to the largest problems that we could ever imagine!!
Towards the end of the day, a lady drove up with a pan of food and said, "I'm sorry I'm late! I didn't get it here on time." One of our volunteers said, "No you are right on time!" because that last pan of food fed the last people in line. We have all been in that same position where we thought "I'm too late..." What if she wouldn't have brought it? If the Lord is prompting you to do something... do it! It won't be too late!!!
My last story is just a reflection on my part... a time to process what I can't quite get my mind around. The lady that I wrote about last week who passed away.... doesn't have a last name that anyone knows so she is at the morgue listed as a "Jane Doe". She was in her early 50's and had one very good friend "Larry" who misses her very much. He said that he misses her so much and finds himself looking for her hoping that it had been just a bad dream. The problem is... it wasn't. She had severe mental illness and severe drinking problem. She had a problem with her esophagus caused by the alcohol and probably drugs that she abused. Over a three day period of time, she bled internally, and died. We used to drive by her and wave... she wore a size 8 shoe. Julie always was very appreciative of the things we gave her.... but she died. God knows that she wasn't a "Jane Doe" because God knows every person. He knew us before we were formed in our mother's womb....He knows the end of the story... but He has given us each a choice. He didn't make Julie drink herself to death....she chose that for whatever reason... but His word says that He does not leave us or forsake us. He loves us......whether drunk or sober... whether addicted to things we can see or addicted to things we can't see, whether rich or poor, clean or dirty, convicted or free, perfect or far from it... He loves us!!!
As long as I live... I hope that I continue to profess the incredible love of Jesus and I pray that I walk it out also. There is a song that says, "Was I Jesus to the least of these?" I pray that the answer is yes! We all bleed the same......we are not so different. I pray tonight for Julie as well as for all of the homeless, the volunteers, and for humanity! "Whether you eat or drink... do it all to the glory of God!"