A version of this post originally ran in August 2012. I got a nudge on Saturday from God to rerun it. You’re welcome.
… and if you offer yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted one, then your light will shine in the darkness, and your night will be like noonday. ~ Isaiah 58:10
Enjoying the summer weather on the beach in Florida is a favorite past time for many and the other day found me with a bunch a people who’d picnicked together and throughout the day, eaten our fill of fried chicken, baked beans, coleslaw … the works … complete with several desserts. As we were packing up to leave there was a little more than half a chicken left, some baked beans, some pieces of fruit and a bunch of cookies. No one wanted to take them and I watched as our hostess moved to throw them away.
Horrified, I stopped her. “Let me take them,” I said. “Surely there has got to be some homeless around I can give this too.” The hostess shrugged and packed up the food in a large plastic grocery bag for me.
A man who’d overheard me waved his hand in a flourish and asked, “Who’s hungry around here?”
I looked at him incredulously and countered, “How many streets west do you think you’d have to drive before you’re out of the multi-million dollar beach front?”
“About six, I’d guess.”
“Well, in about six blocks I bet I run across some hungry people.” I took the bag full of leftovers and trudged off through the sand to find some homeless.
I don’t know what made me turn down that particular street, but as I drove slowly into this area I saw a few people fishing from a pier and a lady walking toward me with a little dog on a length of string. She was quite thin, had lovely long wavy blond hair, and had on a shirt, cut-off denim shorts, and flip flops. Our paths were going to intersect and as she got closer, I stopped my car and rolled down my window.
“Excuse me,” I called out. She looked up and made her way to my car.
Coming closer I could see that she wasn’t just slender – she was rail-thin. The kind of skinny you get when you don’t have enough to eat. She also looked much older than I originally thought she was and I could see her hair wasn’t blond at all, but gray. I’m not good with ages, especially when someone has lived a hard life, but it didn’t matter in my mission.
“Do you know of any homeless around here or anyone who is hungry?” I asked.
What a question, I thought to myself. Do you ever say something and then have that sinking feeling that you could have said what you said a whole lot more eloquently? I smiled expectantly at her hoping to erase that awful inquiry as the words hung between us.
She smiled an almost toothless grin and said, “We are. We are the hunger.”
“Oh good,” I blurted out.
What was wrong with me? I thought to myself. I continued quickly, “I don’t mean good that you’re hungry, but good that I found you because I have some food.”
She laughed and repeated, “We are hunger.” I guess she knew what I meant. I handed over my bag of leftovers, immediately sorry I didn’t have more.
Taking the food, she looked me in the eye and said, “God bless you.” I shook my head not at all in a position to accept the blessing – she was blessing me! For a few scraps of food! It was too much! mainly because I know that only a slight twist in my own past could have easily put me in her position.
I don’t know about you but I get angry that there are hungry people in the US, one of the wealthiest nations on the planet. And I get irritated when I hear people with more than enough questioning the fact that there are actually people in need right here in our neighborhood. And I become very sad that we, as a nation, don’t do enough to make sure that there are no homeless and no person going hungry.
Jesus said we will always have the poor with us. (Matthew 26:11) It’s what we do for them and how we treat them that defines us as a society.
But on this day I slid my car out of park and drove slowly away wiping tears with the back of my hand and repeating her words …
We are the hunger.
This part of the current series began Monday, so if you’re lost, please feel free to go HERE to catch up.
Reminder: Events detailed in the last post happened on a Wednesday evening.
My phone rang Thursday afternoon and Lisa was at the other end. Not only had she secured the full-time job and was due to start on Monday, she also happened to meet a man that morning who happened to have a 2-bed apartment for rent at a decent price. On top of it – the apartment was within walking distance of her new job. Additionally, the landlord waived the application fee (which normally runs $65 – $75) and asked only for first month’s rent and a security deposit. On top of all of that generosity, the landlord decreased the price of the security deposit asking only 1/3 of what he would normally ask. Yet, even with all these breaks she was still $20 short. I agreed to meet her the following day to assist with the $20.
Hanging up the phone I was overcome with excitement. I praised God so hard my cheeks hurt! GOD IS ABLE! We asked and He immediately delivered! An apartment and a job within 24 hours! I instantly called the ladies at my table and informed them of the good news. But we also had more work to do. Lisa literally had nothing except for some clothes and her car. She was going to need everything to start a household and food for at least two weeks before she got paid. We prayed and once again God came through.
The ladies from my women’s ministry table responded with a variety of furniture ~ a bureau and mirror here, a bookcase there, a table and two chairs over here, and someone got two brand new beds donated by a neighborhood shop! It was amazing. It was incredible! The love poured out of us and the community just for this one girl and her son.
This. Was. God.
The next day I met Lisa and her son at the local Chik-fil-A and pressed $40 that I could ill afford into her hands. I told her I’d see her on Saturday because once she got into her apartment we’d be by with food and the furniture we’d managed to locate. One of the ladies had also gotten a men’s group from the church to help load and unload the furniture and perform any other manly chores that needed to be done.
Later that day, as I was finishing up an emergency counseling session; I told my counselee that I was off to visit some yard sales to see if I could find dishes or pots and pans. She looked at me quizzically and I filled her in on my young friend’s plight. The woman sitting on the other side of the table just stared at me. She told me she was preparing for a garage sale in a few weeks and I could come over tomorrow morning and see if the girl could use anything she was getting rid of. What a godsend! I jumped at the chance and arranged to drop by her place on Saturday morning.
I didn’t really know what to expect from what she was gathering for her garage sale, but I had my mental checklist – a couple of plates, bowls, and maybe some silverware and other cooking utensils. When I arrived at her house it was obviously she’d worked putting together what she thought Lisa might need. She’d already boxed up an entire set of dishware, an full set of utensils, silverware, 2 skillets, 2 pots, several pieces of bakeware, some platters, a creamer and sugar, plus – plus – plus. I pulled out my wallet and asked what she wanted for the lot and she waved her hand at me. She wanted to give them to Lisa and her son. Her generosity was overwhelming and I couldn’t thank her enough.
I left my counselee’s home and headed toward Wal-Mart for food and other essentials like linens and basic kitchen implements. I was thinking specifically of a coffee pot. I wanted to ensure she could feed herself and her son for the next two weeks. On my way there I received a call from one of the ladies at our table who couldn’t participate in shopping but wanted me to have some cash to get what we needed and she met me at the entrance to Wal-Mart. God is so good!
As I roamed the aisles I marveled at how God provided for His children within the small space of three days. Each of my steps was filled with praise. Each item I put into the basket was accompanied by words of gratitude. People were looking at me oddly but I didn’t care. I knew I was beaming with joy! Sure, I was praising and worshiping God for His favor on Lisa and her son, but I was also praying for my bank account which had little to nothing in it. There were a couple of times when I felt a pesky twinge to stop shopping, to stop giving, but I beat those thoughts back believing them to be from the enemy and let God know that I was looking for His provision as well. I knew that He would either replace the money I was spending or that I wouldn’t miss it.
But God didn’t stop there. He was going to give Lisa and her son immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20) whether we liked it or not! On Sunday (day 4) another woman from our table who hadn’t been present on Wednesday and wouldn’t be with us the next week stopped me in the hallway before church with a donation for Lisa.
Then after one of the services that Sunday I prayed at the altar with an older woman. As we finished up I watched her eyes flitter back and forth to my name tag. I smiled and pronounced my name for her. She smiled and shaking her head, asked me if I knew of a family who needed help. I’m sure the look on my face was priceless and I briefly explained what was happening with Lisa and her son. She then took a 20 dollar bill out of her Bible and gave it to me saying that God had told her to give it to me for the young family.
To this day, I cannot adequately explain my delight at being part of God’s blessing on Lisa and her son. I remember walking out of the sanctuary that day like I was in some sort of dream.
Or maybe I was in heaven.
I could genuinely feel God’s pleasure in my bewilderment at what had transpired over the last four days. If God were walking next to me at that moment I believe He would have poked me in the ribs and guffawed, “Aha! Gotcha!”
The following Wednesday our table met together and I filled the ladies in on the Sunday’s happenings. Lisa had appeared to thank everyone for everything they’d done. But we just laughed knowing it wasn’t us, but God who had performed miracles.
We asked Him for the impossible, trusted Him to provide, and He did. AND HE DID!!!
When I mentioned the sensation of God being so pleased that He could stun us all into awestruck wonder, I was met by nods. Seems I wasn’t the only one who’d gotten that feeling.
How great is our God?
Greater then we can ever imagine.
And join me on Friday for the rest of story. Yes, believe it or not, there is more.
May His love fill you beyond measure.