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I need to go… anyway

March 9, 2007

We used to go to the mission.  It was  regular, monthly event.  Our local mission has finite resources, like most.  If you want a bed, you go early and get a number.  The mission does a lottery drawing in early evening and if your number gets called you get a bed and a meal.  If not, you fend for yourself on the street.  On milder nights, maybe that’s not a big deal, although I certainly can’t imagine it myself.  On cold nights, below-zero nights, people freeze to death.

Homelessness has always been a heart issue for me.  I remember as a child reading a book my mother bought for me called “Trevor’s Place.”  What an inspiration!  Trevor was 10 when he started ministering to the homeless in Chicago.  He saw a news story about homelessness and couldn’t believe that we as a society would allow such a thing.  He got his entire family involved with his sandwich-and-service venture, eventually building a shelter with funds he had raised. 

I, like a lot of others, didn’t know where to start, even though I felt called to serve.  Enter our small group.  We discussed it, decided we wanted to do it together, and made a plan.  We got together as a group and made soup, coffee and sandwiches, raided a local bread company for their day-old stuff, packed up water, granola bars, socks and blankets, hats and mittens, and whatever else we could find that might be useful.  We headed downtown with our little caravan and pulled up in front of the building.  As soon as we pulled up, the hundred or so (sometimes more, sometimes less) folks would line up.  It was like they could sense our arrival.  They knew we were there to serve them.

We would all get out and set up tables and the people would be pushing the line forward before we were even ready.  They were hungry.  They were thirsty.  They were tired.  They were cold.  They were searching.  They needed ministry… and we were there for them.  We stirred sugar and creamer into their coffee, placed steaming styrofoam cups of hot tomato soup into their cold hands, gave them sandwiches to tide them over, filled their pockets with granola bars, gave them socks to warm their feet, and spent time with them, talked to them.  We heard many stories, some of hardship and loss, some of a life so broken that this existence was all that remained, some wild and unbelievable, all grateful for a listening ear.  I can’t remember a time in my life that felt more rewarding, more like God had called me to do something outside of my comfort zone and had blessed me with his presence just for answering that call.  I loved it.  I wanted to do it more. 

We did… for a long time.  Then something happened.  I think it’s called life, busy-ness, scheduling.  We got overwhelmed by the daily necessities of getting by and we let the mission get edged out.  I miss it. 

I was having this conversation with someone at work last week, discussing the rewards of going, of serving, of knowing we were making a difference, however small that difference might be.  The response I got kind of blew me away.  It’s a lifestyle, this person told me.  They want to live that way.  They expect you to be there for them.  As long as you continue to feed them, you enable them to continue this lifestyle.  The best thing for them is to hit rock bottom and realize they need help — then something will change.

Wow!  I mulled this over for awhile.  I needed to process.  Truth be told, I agree with some of it.  For some it definitely is a lifestyle, just part of their norm.  For some it is an expectation that someone will come and feed them.  For some, perhaps we are enabling. 

So what?!?  Let’s go anyway.  Isn’t that what God does with us?  I’m so thankful that He doesn’t write me off because I’m stuck in a rut, set in my ways, grouchy, argumentative, self-destructive, deaf or crazy.  He loves me anyway.  He serves me anyway.  He calls to me anyway.  And while I know that often I disappoint Him, I know He’s watching me anyway, looking out for me anyway, meeting my needs anyway.  In fact, in the times I’ve been the most broken, the farthest from Him, the most stubborn, those are the times He’s called to me the loudest.  I know that He will never just watch me spiral downward and wait for me to hit rock bottom, thinking that might be the best thing for me.  I picture him instead shaking his head in sorrow, sighing a big sigh, and trying again… anyway.  

That’s the God I want to bring to the mission.  I want to show those broken hearts His face, His hands.  I want to show them that no matter what they’ve done, how far they’ve fallen, how ugly life might be right now, God loves them anyway, wants them anyway, calls them anyway.  I don’t need to give a speech to do that.  I just need to meet their needs–with a hot cup of coffee, with a smile, with a listening ear. 

I need to get down there again, soon.  I need to go anyway – you going that way, too?

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’   Matthew 25:35-40

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynda permalink
    March 9, 2007 4:42 pm

    Wow! No fair making me cry, at work, this early in the morning! That’s some powerful stuff. I think there are a lot of things I need to do…anyway.

  2. Christine permalink
    March 9, 2007 6:51 pm

    You are so right! We do get bogged down with the busyness of life, and we neglect the spiritual things that SHOW and DEMONSTRATE our faith. How sad… I can’t remember the last time I served the poor, the hungry, the downtrodden. Our family certainly has not… I could use the excuse that we have two small kids and it would be dangerous, but that’s an excuse.

  3. Noni permalink
    March 9, 2007 11:16 pm

    This was a wonderful message from the heart. I had forgotten about “Trevor’s Place”, but I hadn’t forgotten about your loving heart!

  4. *Marie* permalink
    September 20, 2008 10:19 am

    Very motivating. Thank you for sharing that.

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