So, since my last post, I have been seeking God's kingdom and righteousness. Being a straight-forward kind of girl, I thought about how one typically goes about "seeking" something and one thing I think I would do is just to ask someone where it is. One night in (boring) Legal Research class, I was thinking about it and just decided to ask. I even wrote the question in the margin of my notebook. (I'm a doodler).
One thing I know about God is that if you ask him an honest question about his kingdom, He will answer. He will never leave you to wonder. And you won't have to wait long.
Recently, my friend M, who...
- was once homeless himself
- is now in the recovery program for which I work
- who now has a passion for the homeless in our city
- and who works for the man next door to my store
.... asked if we could start setting aside the winter coat at my thrift store that we are going to salvage, so he can take them to the homeless. I agreed (and the boss agreed) and my only stipulation to him was that he collect them regularly because I don't have alot of storage space.
Late in the day yesterday, he came into the clothing room and asked me what I was doing after work. "Nothing. Going home. Watching TV", I replied.
"Do you want to drive me to tent city [homeless "community" under a bridge] after work so I can distribute some of those coats and then you can take me home?"
What?! Don't we need to sign up through an agency with the city to do that kind of thing? Clear it with the elders? Plan it at least a month in advance and get a big group together? Sell candy bars to pay for the trip? Pray about it? Order matching T-shirts? Something???
We can't just show up under a bridge and hand out coats. We'll get shot. Mugged. Raped. Eaten.
"Tonight?! Right now? Just like that?" I asked.
"Yeah, it won't take long. I know who needs what."
So after work, we gathered the coats, and my friend L came along with us once she heard where we were going and I drove us to tent city. I didn't even know where "tent city" is. Turns out, it is under an expressway that I have driven over 1,000's of times (often on my way to church) and I had no idea it was down there. There were perhaps 20 tents at the most. Little "households" set up. And M used to live there.
L prayed in the back seat for God to protect us. I felt surprisingly at peace. I think it's because M used to live there so I know he wouldn't take me some place too unsafe.
And we got out of the car and M said to the huddled people, "Hey, we've got some coats" and they came and took coats and were grateful and chatted and hugged us and we left. Changed.
I ask and ask and ask God what he wants me to do about "church". Which one to go to? Where do I fit in? And I haven't heard any clear answers- I admit I am quite frustrated by the whole thing. I am perplexed, because one thing I know about God is that if you ask a question about his kingdom, He will answer and never leave you to wonder. So why do I wonder which church to go to?"
And last night I realized that "church" is not the kingdom. It is something all people in the kingdom should do. And I believe I will find the right one eventually, but I believe more strongly that God has me where He wants me right now... "churchless".... so He can teach me about the Kingdom. The kingdom that lives in the hearts of his people... the ones who know the homeless, even though they are all strung out on drugs and drunk on alcohol.... need basic necessities. They are cold and hungry. And that means tonight. That means, put the coats in the car and let's go now.
It is in the heart of the nephew of my best childhood friend who received a death sentence from cancer at 13 years old and knew that only left him a few years to preach about Jesus and share the Good News... and so he did. And as he lays dying, thousands of people are hearing his story on Facebook and being encouraged.
It is in the hearts of the ones who welcome foster children into their home.
It is in the hearts of the ones who smile at the sad-faced, grumpy cashier at Walmart.
It is in the hearts of the ones who are on the college campuses sharing the good news that changed their life.
It is in the hearts of the ones who work in recovery programs where the rewards are few and the work is hard.
It is in the heart of the hockey coach, who, a couple years ago, prayed with my son who was crying in the penalty box.
It is in the small things, usually. In the "Here's a coat and a hug".
It is a perspective.
It is action.
It is time for me to go to work.
Sorry this is so long, but when you get a taste of the Kingdom, you want to tell about it.