Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Opening the Door

I'm still in awe of what God did Saturday.
If you're a facebook friend of mine, you probably saw my insanely long "status update" about the guy we met. But, I felt like going a little deeper into the story and how amazing God works.

There are several women at my church that hold very special places in my heart. These are women I consider mentors or maybe what you would call "spiritual mothers." They each add something unique and special to my life and my walk with Christ. One of these amazing women happens to clean the church with her husband each Saturday. Without pay. Or complaint. With a smile. All for the glory of God. I've been saying for months that we should do some sort of rotation but it seemed every time they needed help, we were busy. But we made ourselves available Saturday so that she and her husband could enjoy their baby girl's wedding and not have to worry about cleaning the church. We were happy to help out such a wonderful couple and serve our church in the process.

And may I just pause here and say that cleaning a church is no easy task...especially if you do it right. I think we got there around 9:30 and didn't actually leave until around 2:00. But it was all perfectly laid out timing. 

As I was wiping down the counter in the foyer and holding my son on my hip, I heard someone try to get in the locked door. When I heard the sound, I thought, "Please, be someone from the church." I turned my head enough to see a poorly dressed man standing at the window peering in. Okay, now I was freaked out. And this is where I'm not proud of myself. I immediately judged him. Seriously? I'm inside a CHURCH, God's house, and I'm judging the man on the outside. Classy...

Now here's where I have to say that I almost told my husband to stay home that morning. He was in some obvious pain and I thought for a moment that maybe I should just head up there myself and get it all done. But I didn't and God knew why. Left up to me, I would have never opened that door.

Proud moment #2 - I tried my best to ignore him. Oh, wow. Writing that out actually hurts. It's not easy to admit that. Thank God for grace. I finally went over to my husband who was vacuuming one of the side halls and I think my exact words went something like, "Hey, some guy tried to get in the door and now he's lurking outside and peeking in the window and it's starting to freak me out."

Proud moment #3 - As hubby went to check it out, I ducked into the bathroom (*ahem, the men's bathroom*) to "clean." Escapist? Yes. Yep, 0 for 3 at this point. I could hear him talking and then my hero husband comes around the corner and says, "He just wants to talk." Okay. I can handle that. (Wait, who cares what I can handle?) That's one thing about my quiet and reserved man - he is a very good listener to those that just need someone to talk to. So, he grabbed a chair and sat down with him. 

As my lil man and I continued to clean, I overheard snippets of conversation and was slowly piecing this scenario together in my mind. Words like "needs," "tent," "shoes," stood out to me. And as I walked in and out of the bathroom retrieving other items, I briefly saw my husband standing with this man having him write out a list of his immediate needs. He actually (and I didn't mention this on facebook) tried to give the man the shoes off of his own feet. This man, this guy that I judged and was quick to dismiss, has a name. It's Mike and he's gone through some tough stuff but he refused to take my husband's shoes. 

After their conversation the guy left and my man of God came to me declaring the items this man needed. A tent, a blanket, shoes, some clothing, and some food. He'd been staying in the homeless camp in the woods not far from the church and Tropical Storm Andrea destroyed what little he had. So hubby drove home to get some stuff together while I stayed behind and continued to clean...with a repentant and heavy heart. 

This amazing man I married cleared off the top shelf of his side of the closet, full of the clothes he was saving and hoping to fit into again one day, and threw everything in a bag. He switched shoes because he was determined to give him the ones on his feet. He washed a nice blanket that smelled like the dog (because she lays on anything that's soft) because he wasn't about to give this man a nasty smelling blanket, he cleared our cabinets out of any canned goods he knew we probably wouldn't eat, and put together a food bag along with a banana, some crackers, and he cut a big slice of homemade veggie lasagna and put it in a container. He grabbed a rain poncho and our extra tent and headed back. 

A little while later, right before I finished up the last minute things, he showed up again and hubby was able to let him pick through the clothes to find some he could wear, he switched shoes (which happened to fit Mike's feet perfectly), threw on the poncho (it had started to rain), grabbed the tent, the food bag, and set off. He had mentioned to hubby that he would like to stay at Lighthouse Ministries because he doesn't really want to be on the street. After I finished and locked up, we headed home in the rain. Only, we were driving and had a home to go to...Mike didn't. When we turned at the next light, hubby turned into the shopping center parking lot, drove through to the opposite side where Mike was walking toward, got out and met him to tell him that if he hung out at the Checkers, then he would come pick him up later and take him to Lighthouse and pay for a few nights. I mean, it's only $7. Before we drove away again, we watched him as he sat down at one of the tables and dove into the lasagna (which he later expressed was delicious). An hour or so later, hubby drove back to get him and took him to Lighthouse. He learned about some of his story and the rough break this man had. He invited him back to church and later that night we prayed for him. 

The next morning, on our way to church, we saw him walking. He had walked all the way from Downtown where Lighthouse is located to the north side of Lakeland where we are located...at least 5 miles (more, I'm sure). When we saw him at church, he thanked my hubby for his kindness and told him that he probably saved his life. I shook his hand for the first time after the service and he thanked us again, for being there and for opening the door. I cringed inside...because I knew that had nothing to do with me. It was God working through my husband to bless this man. But that whole story made me realize one important thing: I don't ever want to miss an opportunity to show God's love to anyone. My prayer each and every day before I set foot outside my door should be that I take any opportunity given to me, that I open any door available to show God's love and grace. It also made me love my church even more. I knew, without a doubt, that if and when he showed up on Sunday, he would be greeted and treated just as well as some well-kept millionaire and I didn't have to worry whether he would be welcomed or not. Because the people I call my Fuel family don't judge. They love. Oh, that I would learn to love without hesitation, reservation, or limitation. 

I don't know if we'll see him again. I hope so. I hope he'll come back and we'll get to know him and build a friendship with him. But even if that doesn't happen, I will be eternally grateful that my husband listened to the voice of God and opened the door.