Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wednesday in the Word: 1 Corinthians 13:3

1 Corinthians 13:3

3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

I met a young man last week at the grocery store. He was standing out front, leaning against the wall. His name is Tim. He's 21. And he's homeless.
Tim talked with me for a few minutes. I asked if I could give him a package of things and he said, "No. I don't like carrying stuff." I asked him questions, and he answered. He lives under the bridge along with many other homeless people in my city. He wouldn't take the bag of items I wanted to give him (more about the bags of stuff later...) so I asked him if I could pray with him. He wasn't real thrilled with the idea...but I told him I'd keep it real he agreed.
So we held hands and we prayed. And then I left.
As I was walking out to my car I heard that still, small voice..."buy him some dinner". So I loaded my groceries into my car and turned right around and went back into the store.
I bought Tim some fried chicken, a milk, a roll and some string cheese. I had to wait for the chicken to be I went to the magazine rack and read for a few minutes. All the while I'm just praying that Tim will still be out there.
I went through the check-out line...and as I left the store, there he was, standing in the same spot. I was so relieved. I handed him the bag and said, "Here you go, bud, here's some dinner for you." He replied, "Thank you. God Bless."
I came home and told Chris about Tim...
"Hey know that young kid we've been seeing all around town? You know...the one on drugs?"
"I just met him. And prayed with him. And bought him a little dinner. His name is Tim."
"Don't tell me. Did we just adopt Tim?"
Cracking up..."Yep."
Let me explain this "adoption" thing. A while back, at a women's function at church, we filled up these Ziploc bags with useful items for the homeless. The idea is to just keep them in your car and whenever you feel the pull, give a bag to a homeless person, face to face and talk with them a bit, pray with them, etc.
Well, there was a group of the church ladies talking about these bags...and how "doable" they were, etc. And one gal, who was not participating in the bag project, told us of a homeless lady in town that she and her husband had "adopted". She is the one they give to...the one they pray for...the one they buy food and coats for...when they see her they stop and say hi and chat with her a while. They know her story and her name. They don't have to wonder if they should give to this person or that. They KNOW who they're going to give to...her.
And now...I know who I am going to give to...Tim. He's adopted into our family...and doesn't even know it. It's a heart thing...
Since this encounter I have prayed for Tim at least once a day. You see, I had been seeing Tim around town for months. And he would always catch my eye...partly because he's so obviously on drugs. And partly because he's so young. Whenever I'd see him, I'd pray for him. But not like I do now. Now, I can pray for him by name. I can pray about his living situation specifically. I can pray that he find shelter...and warmth. I can pray that he find some dinner. When I am driving around town...I watch for him. And I pray that he is safe. And warm. And full. I pray that someday...he will be free of addiction.
As far as these bags...these plastic bags for the homeless...I've tried to give two of them away. And both times, they were refused. I'm not sure's something to ponder. Maybe they don't want a bag of toiletries. I don't know. Maybe they want someone to talk to them a minute. Ask their name. Smile. Get close. Not judge. Maybe they want us to give a little of ourselves...and not just a plastic bag full of items we think are useful to them.
I don't know...I'm not the grace of God. I'm not addicted to the grace of God. I'm not tortured by mental the grace of God. But...I know that when I'm feeling down...and out...that a kind word..a kind gesture...that is what pulls me out. Maybe it's the same for someone on the street. Maybe it's as simple as listening to that still, small voice...and putting love into action.
I don't write about this to toot my own horn. I write about this in hopes of encouraging you to get out of your comfort zone. I write this in hopes of encouraging you to listen to that little voice that prompts you to do something good for someone else. So many times we hear that voice, the voice of God, and we reason it away. I pray that you won't reason it away. I pray that you will listen to it...that you will obey it. And in doing so that you will be a blessing to someone...a homeless person? Maybe not. Maybe for you it's a grumpy co-worker, that mean teller at the bank, that young punk of a kid who never says thank you at the gas station. I don't know who it is in your life. I only know who it is in my life. It's Tim. And, of course, whoever else God tells me to bless as I go about my day. A blessing doesn't have to be dinner. It can be a smile. A wave. A generous tip. You'll know what it is...just listen. God will let you know.


WhiteStone said...

Thanks! Good encouragement for us to "love one another". Purposely.

Unknown said...

Wow!! I've never thought of this, Michelle. But I LOVE this idea. I had heard of the bags; even bought the stuff for them, but never got it off the ground. But what a concept - adopting a homeless person. I plan to print this and share it with my family.

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Anonymous said...

sorry, Michelle - those deleted comments were mine. Said some things then changed my mind. Thank you for writing this. I struggle with homeless/beggars/people at the end of freeway exit ramps. Perhaps I need to look at them in a different way.

Elaine said...

His name is Alan. He's a little younger than I am. He's terribly afflicted with mental illness. His hair is matted and his teeth are rotten. But he smiles at me and looks me in the eye when we talk. He always says thank you. He's someone's brother, son, nephew, grandson, uncle.

In the Kingdom, he's my brother.

Nancy said...

Experience the joy of Christmas through the love of another....I think Tim just did.

Bless you dear one. God is smiling on you.

This post stirred something within me. I will share. Watch your email.

Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig said...

Thanks for ALL of the comments, ladies. worries! I don't feel about ALL of them the way I feel about Tim. There are some that I look the other way...that I avoid...that I don't help. But..God led me to Tim..or Tim to pray and to help when I can. It only "works" because it's a God thing...

Elaine...I'm glad God put Alan in your path. Good for you for listening to His voice. xo

Elyse said...

I love this post! I have been feeling like I need to help this one homeless lady I see all the time and I have "reasoned it away" :( i dont know why I feel so embarrassed and shy to just TALK to her... but I pray that I do get another opportunity.

you are an inspiration :)

Conny said...

Bless you, Michelle. Bless your sweet soul. Your post hits me especially today because our neighborhood lost a homeless man last week.

It seems a lot of people noticed the police car and coroner near the entrance to the on-ramp last week because a flower memorial has been steadily growing there ever since. My husband said something told him that he should go back home and get a couple spare blankets from the garage, but that he was late for work and didn't turn around. Now he regretfully wishes he had. We had 2 days of really hard frost after that. Maybe the man died from cold; maybe from something else - we'll never know. My husband feels so bad - I told him that maybe he can help someone else when he's prompted once again.

Thanks over and over for a wonderful year of blogging. Merry Christmas to you.

Sheryl said...

you've hit it right on the head. people (homeless or not) want to be seen and heard!! tim is blessed to have been adopted into your family. as you know, i am praying for him as well.

we don't need to give "things"...we need to give love, attention, time. YOU are a blessing. love to you and merry Christmas.

Erin Wallace said...

You are a really good person. And what a wonderful blog. Thanks for giving a voice to those that have none, whom people turn their backs on "they'll just use the money I give them for drugs," but who are hungry, tired, lonely, and forgotten. God taught us never to turn our backs on these people - Jesus loved them as much - if not more - than anyone else. What a wonderful testament to the meaning of Christmas!

Wren said...

Tears streaming down my cheeks. Oh Michelle.. May God continue to speak through you. Thank you for helping me to see when I've been so blind.

sarah said...

wonderful post Michelle :)

How can I give you a hug?!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and praying for Tim this morning.

Magnolia Handspun said...

Oh gosh...first of all you have opened my mind and my heart, beautifully written.
Second I am making some zip locks today...brilliant!

I also want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
Big Hug

Talitha said...

For the homeless, if they are resourceful at least, toiletries are easy. Food is easy. Clothes are easy. If they're not picky they can have most everything they need. There are resources available. What isn't easy is someone to SEE them. Someone to look them in the eye and talk to them without fear. Someone to listen to them. Thank you for being that person, Michelle. For Tim.

Michelle said...

Tim and other homeless men and women in your area may not have a place to use the toiletries. I know that Toronto only has a couple of places that let people shower and get clean and warm if they're not staying in the shelter.

You're a real light in the world, Michelle.