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Friday, October 25, 2013

Stories Too Many To Tell

“Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” Psalm 66:5

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Every person that we encounter in this life has a story. Some are stories of hope and support and love. Their lives have been protected or perhaps parents have worked extremely hard to keep their families together and to provide.  Maybe they’ve had a legacy of faith and of determination that “as for (them) and (their) house (they) will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

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Some stories, however, are stories of hardships and difficulties and fear. Maybe a parent left or even was taken through some illness or accident.  Sometimes spouses lose their jobs and just could not face the guilt of their inability to provide. Perhaps they had parents that had their hands and hearts closed to God and they do not know what it means to have hope in Someone who holds their world in His hands, and so they live this life of hardship with little hope that God holds something greater for them through Christ.

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Each person responds in different ways to their own stories and how they are written out. Some live in gratitude in celebration of or in spite of the hand they’ve been dealt. Some live in constant anger and fear and they do not know how to overcome it. Some have tears and are so broken that they just can’t speak and they carry so much shame that they feel that there will never be a moment of redemption in their futures so they ask the question, “Why press on?”. Some see hardships as a bump in the road that will pass soon and there’s hope for a brighter tomorrow. 

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One thing I’ve noticed though is that all stories share one thing in common… each one is crying out for authentic and honest love and a peace that passes all understanding. There’s no room for being fake or using church words that don’t make sense to their lives. There’s not one person that isn’t searching for honesty and hope through a handshake, a smile, a hug or a word kindly spoken. No matter how they come across as they live out their stories, I have come to realize that no encounter with another life is a coincidence and that encounter might be my only chance to share Christ.

As another sinful human being who has many flaws, imperfections and insecurities the only encouragement that I have to offer has one focus and yet it’s two fold:

1. My testimony of God’s faithfulness in my life

2. God’s Promises

There are so many stories, but there is ONE Holy and matchless God who is pursuing them and He can rewrite those stories with just a touch of the hem of His robe.

I have been on one mission trip to Africa. For twelve days I saw the results of oppression and idol worship and poverty in a 3rd World Country.

I live in the United States.

Day after day I see the results of idol worship through materialism, homelessness and poverty and people who have made choices (or choices have been made for them)  that are effecting their lives in some way that they just didn’t anticipate.

There is a HUGE mission field right here. I pray that my story is one of a life lived pointing people to the nail scarred hands that He invites us to touch in a very real and personal way and that people see that His promises are real and that His life was spent on their behalf.

There definitely is more to this story. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Don’t Touch Me!

Oh my goodness, what a hoot! Today in the clothes closet a lady brought 2 clients in from a Sr. Adult living complex near our church. The clients were on up in age and one was a blind man who was probably in his 80’s and one was an older, ornery woman with braided pig tails and a face covered in makeup that was too light for her skin, and bright red lipstick. I bet she was in her 80’s too, but don’t tell her I told that!

She was a sight. 

She came in just a fussin’ about this and that. I had a feeling we were in for it!

As we found their names and said they were ready to shop the old lady looked at the man and said in a loud and sassy voice, “You just sit there until we are done!”

Bless his little heart!! I didn’t want him to just sit there and not receive anything, but I decided to watch just to see what happened. The lady that brought them looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, “They are ALWAYS like this!”

I turned my head to laugh.

She took the man to the men’s racks and helped him find things that would fit him. When she returned with his things she sat him in a chair and asked if the was ok. He said he was fine so she went to shop for herself. In a few minutes the older, ornery lady came to the front with her items and went to sit in a chair near him. He reached out and touched her on the arm, and she turned and HIT HIM!!! “Leave me alone!” she said.

It was more than I could take!

“Don’t hit him!” I said. “He needs you to love him!”

And then she started… “Well, he’s touching me all the time! I don’t want him to touch me! And besides, I DO take care of him. He’ s my neighbor and his kids don’t take care of him. He’s blind and he can’t cook! I cook! I take care of him and I just do NOT want him touching me!!”

Honey, hush. It was like 2 little kids in the backseat of the car on a long road trip to grandmas. Except this WAS grandma.

Come to find out the man really did have a sad situation. His daughter is using his fixed income for who knows what. She takes his food and doesn’t pay his bills on time. The lady that cared for them filled me in and we were able to give him some things to meet some bigger needs. He was just precious and we wanted to do all that we could to help love him and show him the love of Christ.

While the situation ended up being a sad one the funny part was that the old, ornery lady really WAS loving him. That hit she delivered was a love pat. He was probably showing her his love and appreciation by touching her because his language seemed limited.

When they left the building we helped carry the bags to the car and the old, ornery lady helped him get to the car. She told him when to step down and how to duck to get his head into the backseat. She led him by the hand and helped make sure that he was ok, and then helped get his things into the car. 

Funny how we love sometimes, isn’t it? Sometimes we have to look past someone’s actions and see their heart. The next time that old, ornery lady comes in I am going to give her a BIG HUG! I will let you know if I get a love tap.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Trigger

It’s humbling to think that God could use one ounce of my loud and boisterous self. I can be opinionated and matter of fact and just a plain old sinner.

As I stand in the Clothes Closet each time we are open and people from many walks of life come in I begin to pray, “Shut my mouth, Lord. Make me nothing of myself and all about serving these that you’ve brought my way for just a second of this life.” No one deserves the honor of caring for others, really.

They are lives that God allowed to live on this earth for a purpose. Some are so broken. Some are, honestly, selfish and want to take whatever they can because there’s a level of entitlement. (Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? Or maybe in seasons of our lives? Or if we don’t really KNOW God and fully believe that HE will provide for all of our need according to His riches in glory?Philippians 4:19) Some are hurting and just want something to fill the empty hole inside.

I don’t know if you have a trigger for when God speaks to you, but mine is that my heart begins to beat a little harder. I know I have prayed for Philippians 1:9 that my “love may abound more and more with knowledge and discernment” and some days He gives it greater than I can handle. My heart nearly beats out of my chest when He’s speaking “This is my way… walk in it.”

Yesterday two women walked into the CC and immediately my heart REALLY began to beat. This was unusual because it was almost the end of the day and many people had been through those doors. My heart had quickened a few times, but not like this.

The story began to unfold that one was a caseworker who worked with women who had been victims of human trafficking. The other was a victim who had been sold my her very own husband and he was now in jail.  The look of sadness, defeat and pain was like nothing I’ve seen on this precious life that’s just a few years younger than me. She just seemed numb, and maybe she had drugged herself or self medicated just to escape the pain. I could not say that I blamed her.

When God allows you to serve someone who has been literally treated like a useless piece of trash that’s up for sale for someone else’s profit where do you begin? My heart was beating so loudly that I knew this was a divine appointment and we had to try.

The contrast between the sinfulness of man and the mercy and grace of God has never been more obvious to me than it is now. His pursuit of us is relentless and His provision for us, astounding considering how far we stray from Him in our sinfulness. He never stops bringing others into our lives who will pray, serve, love and support like we never thought possible, and it’s up to us to simply turn to Him and receive.

I’d like to say that a miracle happened for this girl while we worked to help meet some of her needs. The facts are we gave her some clothing (since she was wearing all that she had) and we spoke with her about turning to God and receiving life renewed from Him through Christ. She said that she knew about God and that she knew He loved her.

Every life is a process of TRULY knowing and TRULY believing and TRULY receiving. I pray she’s beginning that process of understanding her worth in Christ and His sacrifice for her.

The more you serve Him and the more you lose yourself in His purpose for you the walk that you have with Him becomes deeper, different and more tender. People become more dear to you because you see HIs love for each one and His longing for them to turn to Him, and you want to be a part of that turning. This journey is changing me, and my life will never be the same.