I was so hesitant to even post what I have on my heart to write because I don’t want it to appear selfish or at all about me. But, at the risk of doing so, I wanted to share something that God did through me a few nights ago – that was completely “not me”. I hope whoever reads this can be encouraged to be open to what God might do through you – where you are – in a greater way. Seek Him, and He’ll put someone or something in your way – you just have to be ready.
As I was leaving work, as I do regularly now, I was looking for the sermon podcast that I’d listen to on the long drive home. The most recent sermons from one of the churches I subscribe to (Andy Stanley @ North Point Community church) were about “wealth” and being “rich”. I kinda knew what he was going to say and it just wasn’t what I was looking to hear about at that point. I wanted something a little more “uplifting” or encouraging. (Perhaps not the greatest attitude – seeking what you want to hear to be encouraged.) Anyway, I found a sermon by Steven Furtick (of Elevation Church) from the series “Greater” – which I’ve already listened to about a month ago – but I was feeling compelled to begin listening to the series again and see if I heard God speaking through to me in a different way. What do you know? He did.
As I was nearing my destination (semi in the city- meeting my friend for dinner), 4 important “things” transpire:
1) My window was down because it was oddly hot/stuffy in my car (in December, go figure)
2) An older man in raggy clothing hunched over with a cane (presumably begging/homeless, etc.) was walking up and down the median
3) The light turns red as I come to a stop next to this man (of course it does)
4) I actually have cash on me (which I never carry)
Crap. In my present conscience I can’t roll up the window to ignore this guy – just something wasn’t letting me this time. I reach for my wallet almost instinctively – yet that would not have been my natural instinct. In fact, I HAVE rolled up my windows in this situation before and ran through the ideas of what a beggar might do with the money I may give him.
The man turns and walks closer to my car, bends down, looks in the car, and says, in very very garbled words, “ohh nice car you got there”.
(Keep in mind, he has incredibly broken speech – I have to repeat what he says to me back to him to make sure I understand it)
The brief – mostly one-way Spirit-lead conversation that followed still blows my mind. I essentially ask a few questions (what are you doing out here, where are you going to get food, do you go to church, and where?) to gauge whether he’s telling the truth. I didn’t really get a feeling either way.. so I just start talking straight from the heart about how God has a plan for all of us – and even in the crappy situations He’s there and He’s got us. I’m pretty much telling him what I’ve been learning and telling myself in my situations. I then hand him the money – his eyes grow huge and he starts moaning in excitement. I tell him that “this money is not from me – it’s not my money. God gave me this money and, yes, I’m giving it to you – but it’s Jesus – don’t ever forget that.” (Heck, I needed to ‘never forget’ that fact) The man raises his finger, points and looks up to heaven. Light turns green. I drive away – with teary eyes – thanking God for showing Himself right there.
I hope he used the money to get a really good meal. But even more, in combination with providing for an immediate small physical need, I hope that my shaky-voiced-teary-eyed brief sharing of God’s love for Him in even crappy circumstances gave Him something to think about. I hope he remembers the time a guy gave him money and told him the money belongs to God. I hope that others come into his path and do the same so he sees a pattern of God providing in some small way. I hope I’m open to see that in my own life – and look intentionally at the blessings and events in my life – and give glory to God in all of it.
It’s not me. I briefly wrestled with the potential that the idea to give him money could have been selfish me (really anyone outside of God’s hand could have done that) I don’t think it was, though. But what I know 100% is that the words I spoke came from God through me. What I spoke was what God had recently put on my heart personally – for what I thought was for myself… Turns out, someone else could use it – probably even more than my trivial life. People do bigger and more beautiful things than this every single day… In hindsight, I can think of some more things that I’d want to say and do for that guy.. But for me it was a step towards seeing that with faith and trust in God’s direction, I can live the greater life that God has planned and called me to – for His glory and to further His kingdom. That I shared my faith and the gospel – however so briefly and in such a small way – was an insane pure act of God – something I desperately needed to see in myself right then – and still.
Those 4 circumstances could have been coincidences, you could say. I say it was God’s directing hand – putting all those puzzle pieces together to form a clear picture. Individually, they are nothing – but together, they formed a possibility for God to do something powerful – for the benefit of both of us. (And hopefully for whoever you are that’s reading this)
God has been working on my heart (and putting me in motion) in other ways as well (maybe I’ll write/publish them at some point). It probably would not have happened had I not been in a place of desperation and reliance on Him – at the end of myself. Things aren’t necessarily better, at all… but little reminders of his Grace and a greater fire stirring inside of me these days give me hope that He’s refining me through trials for something greater – if only to be a greater Christian man than I have been and a better witness of Jesus’ eternal life-giving love. Perseverance.
Let go of the control you cling to and fall into the grace of God.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8 says:
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
When I could only see the floor,
You made my window a door,
So when they say they don’t believe,
I hope that they see You in me