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Unexpected Guests and the Little Deaths

I just had to swing by Winn-Dixie really quick after church and then I was gonna get the kids fed and down for naps so that I could get a good “Sabbath rest” in aka, read a good book, go for a run, and have time with Danny.  As I pulled out of the parking lot, I saw it.  Cardboard  sign with sharpie marker scribbled all over it “Homeless, need food, gas, and shelter. Please help. Thank you and God bless.” I pulled over, and asked the blonde woman with a sweet face behind the sign if she want to come home with me for lunch.  Her husband was sitting in their large, old suburban in the parking lot and she said they didn’t have enough gas to get to our house just a mile away.  Instead I met them at the gas station just one parking lot over.  I asked questions as we filled their tank up, and  I quickly found out that this wasn’t your typical homeless couple.  She was enrolled as a virtual student at Liberty University.  He was a “rider” (motorcycle, that is) turned pastor.  They had only been homeless for two months and the tiny country church they were members of could do little more than offer them their parking lot to “camp out” on in their big truck.

As we sat around the lunch table we found that Murray was an evangelist at heart and although he saw a lot wrong with the modern Church (don’t we all?), his desire is to go to where the people are to bring the good news of Jesus to them.  Terry was a sweet woman with a humble spirit who had few complaints-  Despite the fact they were living out of their truck.  Despite taking showers at the local camp ground, while making pots of pork-n-beans over a campfire for dinner.  Despite parking their truck a the church parking lot, tucked away and in a “safe spot” in the 90 degree weather (with Florida’s intense humidity level thrown in as a bonus) Despite all this, the couple said that they keep trusting the Lord one day at a time.  “He keeps being faithful” they said.  They count it a blessing that their small car broke down and they ended up buying “the truck” for $400 a couple of months before they lost their now-condemned rental home. “Its perfect for us to lie down in the back, and sometimes we even hook up the portable dvd player we salvaged and watch a movie while we’re in there”  Whether it was a bag of dog food (they have two big dogs that live with them in the truck) and some sandwiches given by one of the church members, or someone who puts $10 of gas in their tank they said that God keeps providing for them and showing them He hasn’t forgotten them.

It was refreshing to be around such need again.  Not refreshing like going to a spa and getting your nails done refreshing…more like refreshing to have to face the little crucifixions that come along with serving my neighbor in need.  Like the list of things I had really wanted to do on my Sunday afternoon as a busy mom of four. Death to my to-do list. Or my nicely stocked pantry that I emptied so that they would have some food for the next several days. Death to Kimberly’s control and her meal planning. Or my home, it’s cleanliness, and my family’s rhythm of life as we’ve offered them our extra room and our back porch for the dogs. Death to my comfort, my privacy, my convenience. We were suppose to rent that room out this summer because we technically can’t afford this house without a renter. Death to my financial plan and peace of mind. Oh, the deaths.  But, oh, the joys.  The joys of making new friends out of the unlikeliest people. The joys of being stretched out of my comfort zone. The joys of being forced to cling to the promises that “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Pr.11:25)  or “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord”(Pr.19:17)  or “My God will supply all your needs” (Phil 4:19) or “Seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).  May Kimberly’s flesh die and may the Spirit of God live in me so that my walk is HIS Word and nothing else. To live is Christ and to DIE is gain (Phil. 1:21)