God Loves Each One of Us
word count: 1065 read time: ~3-4 minutes
I had the idea of doing a free gift wrapping project with members of our church to share God’s love with people during the Christmas season. After a few weeks of advertizing in the church bulletin and through word of mouth, we had a good number of people who were ready to serve. Next I called up several department stores and the local mall to see if we could use their facility for this “community service project”.
The only positive response I received was from the local mall. During the Christmas season they allow non-profit organizations to do gift wrapping in their commons area. They charge for the gift wrapping and then split the proceeds between a non-profit organization they support as well as the partnering non-profit, in this case our church. A couple problems arose from this option. For one, it would not be a free gift wrapping which was the original intent and secondly they had long hours that required more people than we had available to serve.
I had over ten people who were ready to serve in the upcoming Saturday, but no place to go. As I sat at my desk praying about the situation, the idea came to me to call the local Chick-Fil-A restaurant to ask if we could do our free gift wrapping in their store which is located just outside the mall. After speaking with the marketing director, she agreed and the door was open for us to serve.
We made some lawn signs to advertize the event and the restaurant put them up for us. Another woman in our church made some huge signs that we could hold around our neck and advertize to the oncoming mall traffic. That Saturday when we met together, I took one of the large poster signs and stood outside in the median of the road at a traffic light where people were turning into the mall.
After standing and waving to people for about a half hour, I realized that there were other people further down the road at the opposite traffic light running some type of fundraiser. I took the walk down to their intersection, praying for a chance to engage them in conversation and see what God would do. These college students were raising money for kids with cancer. After speaking with them for a few minutes, I noticed a man on the neighboring corner who was holding a “Going out of Business” sign for a local furniture store.
I crossed the road and walked over to this man to engage him in conversation. He wore a hooded sweatshirt and looked as if he hadn’t shaven in several days. I greeted the man with a smile and introduced myself. He told me his name and started to share about his life. He said he lived in a recovery house in a neighboring state and was down on his luck. He was hungry for something to eat. He had asked the college kids for some money to eat, but they were unwilling to give him anything. I told him that I would buy him lunch from Chick-Fil-A if he would come to the restaurant with me. He said he wasn’t able to leave his spot and would soon be picked up by his manager to be dropped off to the next location soon. I told him that I’d be willing to bring him lunch.
Before I left to get him lunch, I told him that I was a pastor and would love the opportunity to pray for him. He was looking me in the eyes and all of a sudden burst into tears! So there I was, on the corner of this busy intersection hugging and holding this grown man in my arms as he wept and shook in my arms. I didn’t know what the issues were in his life, but I silently prayed for him as He cried.
When he looked up, he told me of the family issues he was struggling with and I could sense how hopeless and broken he felt. So, I prayed for him again, this time out loud. As I prayed, I was struck by God’s love for this one man. He loved him so much that He would coordinate all the efforts we put forth for this outreach and then send me to this street corner to pray for him. How amazing is God’s love! I prayed God’s love over this man’s life and into his situation. He was thankful for my prayers.
I went back to the restaurant and bought the meal for this man. I took another volunteer with me to bring him back the food. Just as we approached the road and before we got to the place the man had been standing, a truck pulled up to us. Out of the truck popped this gentleman. I gave him the food and he gave me a big hug and even a kiss on my cheek and thanked me. He told me that he’d be in touch with me. He left back in the truck and I waved goodbye. My friend who had come to deliver the food with me looked at me and asked, “Why did that guy just kiss you?” I laughed. It’s a long story, I’ll explain later.
What struck me most about this incident was the love God had for a man that many people would walk or drive past without giving a second look. This man was broken and God wanted to bring healing and restoration to him. God loves broken people and is out to find them and bring them to Himself. He will leave the ninety-nine sheep to go after the one who’s gone astray. (Luke 15:4) He’ll search the entire house to find the one lost coin. (Luke 15:8) He’ll throw an all out party for one lost son who returns home. (Luke 15:22-24) God loves each one of us enough that He sent His Son! (John 3:16)
As you go about your day, look around you and ask the Father to open your eyes to see the lost sheep, lost coin and prodigal sons or daughters that He desires to bring home to himself. Then extend a helping hand and meet the needs of those around you. When you do so, you are not just serving mankind, you are serving Jesus himself! (Matthew 25:45) Amen.
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