Lessons Learned!

Yesterday my bookkeeper came as she always does on Fridays.  In the retail business, cash flow ebbs and flows.  Summertime is one of those times it ebbs! I shouldn’t be surprised as I have been doing this for ten years, but it doesn’t change the concern when you see all the bills due and look at the bank account.  Friday was one of those days that we came up short. Those of you who have businesses know what it feels like when you have to meet payroll. God always provides, and I know He will this summer once more.  However, I confess I was anxious and woke up worried about it and praying for a huge day in sales today. I was off today and planning on running errands and staying home.  But during my quiet time, I felt led to go down and feed the homeless with Pastor 7’s ministry.  His ministry is called 7 Bridges to Recovery and they minister to the least and the lost of Atlanta.

I honestly did not want to go, so I nudged off the thought, but it came back very strong, so I prayed and asked God if He wanted me to go that I would.  His answer was “Go.” Driving down, I once more told God I really did not want to being doing this today so to help me with my attitude. Traffic was bad on 75 and that did not help one bit. I got to the K-Mart parking lot where everyone meets. This was my first time going  by myself. I always take a group of my Bible Study girls or at least one other person. I got out of the car feeling proud of myself that I had chosen to spend my Saturday helping the homeless. The group of people who came to help were from all walks of life and many looked as if they had endured a rough life. Here I come in my Volvo Station Wagon, and for me a- casual outfit of an old skort, a black ruffled t-shirt with a pucci scarf belt and old running shoes. I definetly did not fit in with this crowd of guys with tattoos, wife- beater shirts, and several other interesting looking people. As I was walking with my sack lunch over to the first bridge, I was so convicted by the Holy Spirit that I am no better than any of those people in fact, I am exactly like them, a sinner saved by God’s infinite and loving grace.  I asked  God to forgive me right there and to cleanse my heart of any pride.  And actually came to the realization that heaven will look like this, people from all tribes, cultures and backgrounds. It was a powerful lesson and one I hope to retain.

That was not the only lesson I learned from my time under the bridges of Atlanta today. As I was praying for the first person’s “home” for that is what it is to these people, a cardboard box with a sleeping bag on top under a bridge right under a major highway, I realized that if not for the grace of God that could be me or a member of my family.  Yes, most of these people are here by the bad choices they have made(the majority are addicted to drugs and alcohol), but many are there because of bad choices of others, including children. That is what breaks my heart the most, and all of these people were children once. I could not stop crying after that. The eyes are the window into someone’s soul and today looking into the eyes of these men and women, I saw sorrow and despair. Some had bright smiles on their faces. One man named Willy had the most joyful countenance living in complete squalor underneath a bridge near a railroad track. Another man named Joseph was so very thankful for his sack lunch, and he thanked us over and over again.

Another lesson that I learned today is from Proverbs 11:25b “And he who waters will also be watered himself.”  You see, I went thinking I was going to help these homeless when they helped me see how very blessed I am. I got to get back in my nice car, come back to my nice air-conditioned home and a real bed to sleep in tonight. I know where my next meal is coming from.  It also gave me great perspective on my worries about my finances at the shop. God has always provided because He is faithful and He promises that if we “bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me in this” Malachi 3:10 that He will open up the windows of heaven over us. I have  tested Him over and over again with this principal, and He has never failed me once, so I am ashamed that I gave it a second thought yesterday and this morning.  I am grateful He gave me the opportunity today to learn all these lessons.

God is faithful, and He takes care of His children. We are blessed in order to help others, not to hoard material possessions for our own selfish gain. He loves the Willys and the Josephs and wants them too to surrender their all to Him.  Perhaps, each one will eventually come off the streets and get the help that is offered to them every time the team goes out after seeing the love of Jesus in the hands and feet of His children.

My final lesson just came in from a phone call from the shop.  They did not have a good day as I had prayed so much for. Yes, I am disappointed that we did not have a huge day, but God is teaching me to trust in the midst of my circumstances and that He is much bigger than they are. It would have been a great ending that I went to help with the homeless and God answered my prayers by giving me a huge day in sales at the shop, but God’s ways are different and higher than our ways and lessons learned are sometimes more important than having our way in answers to prayer.