Friday, December 18, 2009

The God Who Cares

I hesitated to share this for fear of sounding boastful, but I want to let others see the intricate and personal detail in which God pursues and cares about us because I think we often ignore it or just don't get to experience it. Sometimes it just astounds me, and I'm left speechless.

That morning I woke without any intent of going shopping...or anywhere. But after I was up for a while, I felt urged to call a friend in Fort Smith to meet for lunch. I can't help but smile now because while I anticipated merely catching up with a friend, God was busy orchestrating something far greater.

I arrived in Fort Smith a full 40 minutes early, which is completely out of character for me. My intent was to sit at a coffee shop with my lap top until time for lunch. Once I got onto the main road, though, I inexplicably found myself turning onto a road that would not lead me to said coffee shop. In a matter of seconds, I realized I was right beside a craft store, and since I had some time, I could go in and see if they had any icing bags and icing tips. (We've been heavy into the Christmas cookie design world this month!)

I parked the car, in no way suspecting that I'd be in there any longer than 10 minutes. I need to insert that I did not walk into the store asking God to bring me someone to be a blessing to. I just went in to find icing bags--that's it.

Never before had I looked at icing bags. I didn't know where icing bags were in the store. But will you believe that I walked straight to them? I mean, straight to them.

There was a woman already on the aisle with two small children in her basket. She wore a pink sweater, and her children were smiling and wishing they could get their hands on the cake decorations: clown heads and Spiderman. I squeezed past her to reach for a bag I saw, and her response was sweet, welcoming, not like many other "strangers" you meet. She was friendly with small comments of why she was there. Her son's nose was running, and she said she wipes it every five seconds.

It was at that moment that I knew I could either smile and grab my findings and whisk away, or I could slow down and visit for a minute. I thought of the tissues with lotion I'd gotten for Kate so her nose didn't get raw, and it just came out of my mouth. Right then, she got a phone call. She mentioned a funeral and a poem that had been read there, and a Christmas program coming up at a church where her son would sing. I know it's rude to eavesdrop, but it was impossible not to hear, and I felt God asking me, urging me to hang on a few minutes.

So I waited.

She got off the phone and what God did from there still amazes me. She shared so much with me, such delicate information that I would guess she didn't know why she was sharing with a perfect stranger. But God knew, of course. She shared how she came to be a mom of three children with different fathers, how she'd been betrayed, cheated on by men with neighbors and friends, without a job, abandoned, scoffed at, given that look. Most people did not reach out to her.

As I listened, I felt so strongly compelled to give her something that I'd been asking God what to do with...and I just knew it was for her. I gave it to her and she held it for a while without looking at it, still sharing with me her life. I could tell she was nervous and this sort of thing was not a daily occurrence for her.

I felt like it was time for me to go, so I said it was nice to meet her and started to back away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her look at what she held, and when I looked up, her eyes were filled with tears and she was coming toward me to give me a hug. Her tear-filled eyes gave way to sobs, and we stood hugging for quite some time. All I could do was cry with her. She said, "I've heard of people like you...I've always wanted to be that to someone, but I'm always on the other end."

As if this wasn't enough of a blessing for me that day, God just kept on moving. She mentioned that she lives in Oklahoma and normally doesn't come to this store, but she was looking for none other than icing tips and saw in a sale paper that this store had them on sale that day. I'm not even making this up. While I had not gotten up that morning with the intent of finding icing tips, she had.

We had both come to this store for the exact same thing.

I had to ask where in Oklahoma she lived, since I live there as well. And it just got better. She lives in Spiro, where we are about to launch a new campus of our church. I think I nearly squealed at that point. So, I shared with her what fuelchurch.tv is about and how we operate, what our pastor is like, etc. At first, I'm sure it sounded just like any other church invitation she may have received. But I shared how we'd grown in our relationship with God because of the leadership there, and there was a point of cross-over that was quite pointedly the moment where her heart began to listen and entertain the thought of actually coming. It was when I told her that our pastor isn't afraid to sit in a bar and connect with hurting people and that I wasn't sure how many tattoos he has.

From there, we exchanged information on how to stay in touch, and we are. This was not a "project." It occurred to me that sometimes we do (scratch that...God does something for someone through us) and we walk away, never seeing that person again, never investing in their lives, never pursuing them with love.

What if God did that with us?

I walked out of the store with my two icing tips and bags (which, bonus, were 30% off) 40 minutes later, but it had felt like 5 minutes. I physically felt the Holy Spirit right there with me, in my chest and wrapped around my shoulders. I began replaying the specific detail in which God had woven together my morning with hers...and all I could do was worship Him.

May this portrait of who God is and what He cares about encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and let Him do something remarkable with your day, even with your ten minutes. The intricate detail that He uses to bring people together will more than likely take your breath away. It may hurt a little, it may break your heart and bring you to tears. But in doing so, it will undoubtedly cause you to walk one more step closer to the God who orchestrates, the God who loves, the God who cares.


Peace of Christ to you,

2 comments:

  1. You should be feeling pretty proud of yourself. God gave you an opportunity but you took it with both hands.

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  2. Thanks for the reminder. I forget how he orchestrates my life and brush off coincidences.

    ReplyDelete