Just in Time
There had been talk of calling Pedro. We had discussed calling him because we had bags that we thought he might use in the food pantry that works in conjunction with the Clothes Closet. I was in a back room with ladies who were sorting clothes and they were showing me things… asking questions. I never had a chance to call Pedro.
I heard the door open and so I went to the front. Several people had entered and I began to help them register to shop. While I stood there the door opened again. This time there was a look of dread on the lady’s face as she entered.
“Hi!” I say. Trying to sound welcoming.
She smiles a small smile, but her eyes are so sad.
“Is this your first visit with us?” I ask, trying to keep the conversation light and encouraging.
She shakes her head. Yes.
I give her the paper work and tell her that she’s welcome to shop. She begins to walk around, but it’s more like a wandering. A lonely gait that’s weighted down with the worries of this world.
Finally I ask, “Are you looking for something specific?” Hoping to strike up conversation and share a little hope.
“Well, see…” she pauses. “I lost my job.” She starts to cry. “My 12 year old daughter needs some shorts and I have already visited Goodwill. I just don’t know what to do.”
I walk towards her. She’s wiping tears and she doesn’t want to look at me. I walk up beside her and put my arm around her shoulders.
“Listen, there’s no shame here,” I offer.
“YES! THERE IS! I don’t want to do this! Walking in that door was the hardest thing!” she shoots back.
“Ok. Well, the way that WE see it is that we are here to help those who have gotten to a bump in the road and they just need a little push to get over it! We see your situation over and over again, but we know that God has a plan and that He will work your situation for your good. It may be hard to see it now, but He will use this!”
She softens. “I know so many people who have lots of money! I never imagined I would be here shopping for free clothes.”
“Yes, but are you realizing that money isn’t everything?” I ask, gently. “You know those friends that have money? The money definitely helps, but are all of them really happy? Are they really satisfied? Only God REALLY fills us. He has a plan in this. You watch and see.”
She continues shopping. It’s hard, but she finds some things for herself and her daughter. She brings her things to me to “Check out” and she hands me her credit card. I giggle and I say, “Ma’am. I don’t need this!” and we both laugh. She’s a little lighter now.
I look at her form to be sure that she had found something for everyone on her list. Sure enough it’s just the two of them. The “Spouse” line says “Widow.”
“Oh God!” I pray. “She lost her husband and she’s probably my age! She has a daughter that’s the same age as my daughter and now she’s lost her job. It’s no wonder she’s so sad and overwhelmed. Please God! Show me what to say!”
He whispers. “Pray.Point her to Me. I will carry her.”
I get her hands and I say, “You are probably going to cry, and that’s ok, but I need to pray with you.”
She sighs, and big tears well up in her eyes, but she bows her head and we pray. We ask God to carry her and for Him to continue to draw her to Him. We ask Him to provide and that she would sense His direction as she looks for a job.
About that time the door opens. It’s Pedro.
He’s carrying hats that someone had left at the food pantry. He looks at me and then at the lady. He says hello and introduces himself. Then he says, “Ma’am, why are you crying!?”
She can’t answer and so I whisper, “She lost her job. It’s a little hard right now.”
His words could not have been more perfect. It was as if God had him eaves drop on our conversation and he had had time to practice what would come next.
“Ma’am, we ALL are in need. Every one of us. Even the richest people have needs. Everyone of us needs something! Right now you need a job, and God will provide it! He will! Did you get some clothes? Did they help you here?”
She’s crying, but she nods her head and she’s looking straight at him.
“Ok! You need food? We’ve closed the food pantry, but I have a key. Will it help you? I will open it and we can get you some things. :You need a few things now, but you wait. God is going to carry you.”
She looks at me. He eyes are teary, but she’s somehow smiling a little. It was as if God had told both me and Pedro to say almost the exact same words. “Some food would help a little. Are you sure it’s ok?” she asks.
I smile at her. “Oh, well, if Pedro says that he will take you and open the pantry just for you I think I would follow him!”
She hugs me. “Thank you.”
It’s a wonder, sometimes, that when everything is going well… we have a job, food for our families and clothes on our backs, families that love us, a good education… that we even see God at all. I wonder how many times He has had to strip us bare before we realize that HE IS GOD!?
There are times that we go through, hard times, and we decide that we are going to pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and DO THIS THING!
At some point, however, as one preacher put it, we come to the realization that we don’t even have boots.
All we have is a true and living God that longs to have a relationship with us. He wants to bring us to the end of ourselves so that we can see that His ways are higher. Better. Richer and stronger than any way that we could ever choose. He will take us to any length to make us see that He is pursuing us and that the things of this world truly do not hold a candle in comparison to the Light of His glory and the hope that He brings.
And for those of us who have seen that glory.. are we willing to stop our lives that are going so well to tell someone else about it?