You can offer food, but people also have to realize they’re hungry.
Just the other day, I was heading out for lunch with a friend and when I walked out of our building I saw a woman lying down in a parking spot. She was using one of the cement blocks as a pillow and was sleeping in the shade. I didn’t think it was kind to wake her, so I stepped around her carefully and go into my car which was one spot over from her.
I thought about it for another moment, if I should ask if she’s okay (which in some ways is a weird question—of course, she’s not but then again she is). And I was starting to wrestle with what I should do with this assumingly homeless woman sleeping just outside the door of the church.
God’s word which was hidden in my heart was poking me to want to do something.
I started up my car and the sound stirred her. She picked her head up and looked at me—of course, I was looking at her. I turned my car back off and got out to talk to her.
“Hi. How you doing today?” (Dumb)
“I’m alright.” (Not really though)
“Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Well, have you eaten lunch yet? I was just on my way out but we have a bunch of food in the refrigerator in there that I’d love to give you.”
“I’m fine. I’ve got snacks in my bag.”
“That sounds good… but we have some proteins, like meats, cheeses and good crackers. I also have cold drinks. How about I just go make a bowl for you of some of that?”
“Why?… Why in the *#$% would you want to help me?”
“There’s been times when I’ve been hungry and people were nice to me. I guess God is asking me to do the same for you right now.”
I went inside and pulled together the bowl of meats, cheeses and crackers, grabbed an ice cold Sprite and went back out to her. She still seemed suspicious of my intentions.
So I said, “Here you go. It’s good stuff. I was just eating it myself.” No response.
“How about I just leave it here with the Sprite and these napkins for you?” No response but her eyes locked on to the Sprite. “I hope you like it. I’ll be back later if you’re still around.”
I went off to my lunch and came back about 90mins later. This is what I found:
When these kind of odd moments happen—which is just about every day—I ask myself, “Lord, what are you trying to show me?” This is part of what I mean by “living out of God’s Story.” It’s looking for the meaning in the moments. Or like a good friend once said, “Seeking the divine the daily.”
My rules for this kind of interpretation are pretty simple: (1. )The symbolism has to align to scripture, (2.) It will most likely have context and consistency, and (3.) I can’t force it too hard to fit.
The lady refusing the food, reminded me of what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks in working with the staff to draw up our discipleship menu for the 2015-2016 year. Every season, we want to provide spaces for people to grow in the friendships together as they spend time in God’s Word (Know It Groups), experience His transforming power (Live It Groups) and build up the Kingdom (Share It Opportunities).
As I’m crafting the ministry plans, I have the same level of confidence and insecurity… I know what we’re offering is good, but if they won’t take it?
Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) We need God’s good food—His Story; which is His living Word—in order to live! But so often we just want the cool refreshing rush of the Sunday worship experience.
We throw the bowl down when we let busyness or insecurity keep us from gathering with others and feeding on His Word together. We’re all tired. We’re all just trying to get by… and it can seem like making time for discipleship is adding another thing to our already overwhelmed life.
But the Lord also said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” and everything else will get added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
I think Restoration is an exceptionally friendly church and a great place to grow in faith and friendship. But you have to know what you’re heart, mind and soul really need… You have to know you’re hungry. Then come and eat with us.