Recently I received a clothes donation from a friend who has lost lots of weight. She has done so well that she cleaned out 7 large bags of clothes and gave them so that others might be helped, blessed and encouraged. What a major blessing to our ministry!!
The lady came in with a smile on her face. This wasn’t the first time she’d visited. The first time was far different.
She’d come in convinced that we could not help her. She didn’t want to register and her tone was a little gruff. Her hair was cut in a man’s cut and she wore men’s clothing. She had been a part of an alternative lifestyle. She took men’s XXL golf shirts and said she wasn’t going anywhere anyway so why did it matter? Her heart was very bruised and her spirit was very low. Her gruffness stemmed from pain and it was so obvious that there was layers of pain.
Little did I know that she was being prayed for. Other ladies at the church had also met her and they were praying for her to come to church and for opportunities to help her see Jesus.
They invited her and they kept praying.
And then one week she came. Then she came, and she came again. She sat through all three of our services on a couple of given Sundays. She heard truth and she saw kindness. She heard that she was welcome and she was invited to a Bible study. She came to that, too. She had not grown up in church and so her ideas, to say the least.. were very skewed. Her lifestyle had brought some sharp edges and she wasn’t opposed to speaking out…sometimes using those edges with people who were trying to encourage.
People just kept on praying.
SO this week she walked in with a smile. She tried to bypass the check in counter, but I recognized her and I asked her to come check in.
“You won’t have my size! I just wanted to look before I committed.” She said with a grin.
“How do you KNOW? You don’t know what we have been given so remind me of YOUR name so we can get started looking!” I replied, smiling the whole time and feeling my overjoyed heart get bigger by the minute.
“Oh, really now?” she said, grinning still.
I checked her in and she began to look. I walked over and pointed out several of my friend’s pretty things and I suggested that she take them.
“Really? They are so nice! I can have this?” she asked with her eyes sparkling and she laughed with LOUD laughter. So much so that it filled the room!
“You sure can. See? I told you! You just never know what God will do.”
She kept looking and she brought a few things to the counter. “Now, don’t let anybody take these. I am still looking!” she said.
She came back with a few more items and this time she wasn’t smiling.
“I get it, you know? “ she was more serious now.
“You get it?” I asked, a little confused.
“Yeah. I get it. I have been coming to Bible study and I get it.” She paused. “I am not sure that I totally buy into it, but I do get it.” she continued.
“Yeah? I was like that for a while.” I said.
Her eyes shot up to mine. “YOU?”
“Well, yeah. I mean I grew up in church, but my faith wasn’t my own until college. I knew Jesus loved me, but I didn’t live it until I was in my 20’s,” I said.
“Yeah!? Well, you aren’t old like me! If I buy into this that means that my WHOLE life, up until this point, was a lie.”
“Yeah? Me, too.” I stood just looking at her.
“No. You mean I am not the only one?” she truly looked surprised.
“No, ma’am. Actually, you are pretty common among those that have asked Jesus into their hearts,” I said with a smile.
“Ok, well… If I take these pretty things it would give me something to wear to church, you know? I could keep coming and this would make me feel so much better if I had some nice things to wear. You remember I got those men’s golf shirts last time? Well, I would rather not wear that if I don’t have to.”
“Yes! I do remember and I agree with you. You can wear these and they will look so nice. They will be perfect for church!” I smile at her.
“Hey, I want to help you. Do you need volunteers? I could sort some stuff or something. I am on disability and can’t work, but I can do something for a few hours. Can I help you?”
She genuinely wants to be there. She is longing to be used and to be productive and she needs to be connected… not only to other Christians, but to God. Her lifestyle has left her alone and she is beginning to see that God’s plan is a better plan for her life… for every life.
We signed her up to work next week. I am sure there will be little bumps in the road, but I see her taking steps. She’s trying and she’s tired of living a life of emptiness. What would it be for me to deny her the opportunity to see God’s hand at work on a daily basis? This could be THE very thing that causes her to see Him working in the lives of others and it could help her “buy into it” for eternity!
As I packed up her bag I asked if she’d like a little cosmetic bag that we’d been giving away. “I am not sure why I’d use it.,”she started, but then she said, “Oh! I could use it to bring my markers and pencils to church! I could wear my new things and bring my new bag with my markers. I would be ready to learn!”
Oh, Lord! Why do you bless us so?