When the Warm, Fuzzy Feelings are MIA

photo credit: Felixe via photopin cc

photo credit: Felixe via photopin cc

I watched her from the carpool line as she walked out of the church, a bag of food in her arms. She put it in the back of the pickup truck that looked as if it held all of her worldly belongings. She didn’t seem to notice the long line of minivans and SUVs that were snaking their way around to pick up little ones from school. She noticed none of that. She just bent her head over the back of her truck, hands clasped in desperate prayer and cried.

I had been watching the truck before I even saw her because inside was a grandmother bouncing a curly-haired baby boy in her lap. I have a curly-haired boy. They were sitting in that truck a long time. Baby bouncing, occasionally honking the horn. I kept my eyes on them. I wondered.

Ever since my boot incident and not responding to God’s call to me, I’ve been looking around and thinking, “are you asking anything of me here, God?” And, quite frankly, that’s a really silly prayer because of course He is. Always. He wants me to follow Him in every moment–not just the ones that happen in Goodwill in the shoe aisle with my polka dot rain boots.

So when I saw this truck and the curly-haired baby and the grandmother and the sobbing young woman, I realized something. Time to get interrupted. Act now.

I remembered that a friend had given me several bags of baby clothing to donate where I saw fit. I had been driving those bags around town, often forgetting they were there. I quickly jumped out of the car and looked in my trunk. There were three bags–all boy clothes, all things that looked like it would fit a certain curly-haired child not even 100 feet from my car.

I quickly called into the office of our church where I knew the desperate woman was waiting again and spoke to the person who would become my “sister-in-mission” on this project. I asked if she thought the woman needed clothes for the baby; my sister-in-mission started to cry. She saw what the young woman needed right in front of her. At least the clothes would help.

As we met and I passed the bags over, I was able to hear slices of the young woman’s story and saw her entire life–plastic garbage bags–filling the back of her pickup truck. I knew she was a believer as we discussed that mornings’ devotional from “Jesus Calling”. She asked if I had read it. I had.

“I shower blessings on you daily, but sometimes you don’t perceive them. When your mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me nor My gifts. In faith, thank Me for whatever is preoccupying your mind. This will clear the blockage so that you can find me.”

She wiped tears from her eyes as she explained that the reading told her to thank God in this circumstance and she was doing it, but still not knowing how her story would end. It was a strong possibility that it would end with her sleeping in her truck that night.

I know God set up an appointment for us that day. My sister-in-mission and I looked at each other, a cry in our hearts, and we knew God had placed her in our path. We were willing to be interrupted. Phone calls were made for over an hour trying to find help, make connections, seek assistance. We invited the young woman back to church, to get involved, to be surrounded by community. Some help was found. But not enough to fix it all.

But here’s the thing: even when we have divine appointments, and actually respond to them, they do not always end up wrapped nice and neat with a bow. It’s not always problem solved, feel good, life changed, fixed.

I pray life was changed. I pray that the woman and her mom and the curly-haired boy left with a hope. We handed her a gift card to a grocery store and she thanked us. Sincerely. But she turned and walked away, silently sobbing, no less desperate than when she arrived. We couldn’t fix everything. We couldn’t fix her life in those brief moments.

What good is helping when it doesn’t feel good? Or if we feel like we’re even helping at all? What happens when it feels like we are emptying the ocean with an eyedropper. Is there a point?

Yes. Yes.

God calls each of us to do our part. It’s not MY story. It’s His story. If he calls me to give a woman clothes and a gift card, I need to do it. Just because I’m not the final person in this woman’s journey–the one who gets to see the victory or the smile or the sigh of relief as she turns the corner–so be it.

Here’s what Paul said to the believers in Corinth about the work God asked of him and Apollos: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)

We need to plant seeds. We need to water them. We need to trust that God is at work.

This family is now in my head. Planted, watered, growing. And while I will probably never see them again, I’m praying for them.

My sister-in-mission stood next to me, watching the woman disappear from our sight. I turned to her and said, “Listen, I need to tell you about a pair of boots.” I needed her to know how I had messed up and how I carry that regret. I needed her to realize that even though our work that day did not end up making us feel warm and fuzzy, that she and I were made for that moment. I wanted her to know I felt privileged to have partnered with her on that random Wednesday afternoon.

What amazed me was that she actually already knew about the boots. A divine appointment, indeed. Such is the small, small world in which God has planted us. An important reminder that the ground we walk on (whether a paved church parking lot or the dusty floors of a Goodwill) is holy.

Comments

  1. Timothy M.Kenny says:

    Katie- Proud of you as always ! Your actions were the “boots on the ground ” Christianity the world so desperately needs.When lost souls come across our radar, Jesus expects us to do something.You did.
    God knows exactly what you did.You may have helped her soul as much as you helped her life.

    • Dad, thank you. Your words mean a lot considering you are one of the best examples of “boots on the ground” Christianity that I know. We may not know our influence on others in this lifetime but we must do it anyway. I thank you for teaching me that.

  2. Alyce Ross says:

    Katie, you have a gift for reaching our hearts and challenging us to be and do all He asks of us. Thank you for challenging us.
    Alyce Ross

  3. Hi, Katie!

    Just visiting from Nancy’s blog. I really enjoyed your post there and this one as well. I had to share it with my husband. You are so right. I know there have been times where I have been hesitant and missed opportunities that I know God wanted to use me. I always feel better when I listen. You never know what kind of ripple effect you can have in a person’s life.

    • Thank you so much, Anna! I’m glad you stopped by! I agree, there are so many moments when we miss God’s opportunities for us. But I’m thankful that He shows us grace when we do. But oh, how wonderful are those moments when we do keep our divine appointments!

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