Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Over my morning coffee…

coffee

I used to think that God has a special place in His heart for the poor and needy, the widow and the fatherless – and He does.  But actually it is more than that.  When God says to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the outcast to your home, to spend yourself on behalf of the poor (Isaiah 58) it is not just that He is being kind, it is because this is the very essence of WHO He is.  This is God Himself, reaching down to us in our poverty, our need and our sin.  When God came to earth as the man, Jesus, this was the ultimate act of sharing with the poor, serving the needy and clothing the naked.  He could have stayed where He was, in the light and worship of glory, but He didn’t.  He spent Himself on behalf of the poor, by coming to this dark, sin-sick, broken world.  He not only identified with humanity by becoming clothed with human flesh, He went further.  By His death on the cross He was numbered amongst the transgressors and although He never sinned, He took the punishment in the place of the transgressors of His divine law – you and me.  This was the ultimate act of intercession.  This was the ultimate act of giving.

Even a cursory reading of the Bible will show God’s heart towards the widows and fatherless, the oppressed and needy.  Although we can never atone for the sin of humanity, that was His work alone, He does call us to share the burden of those who have been forsaken, trampled and broken.  To allow ourselves to see suffering and need and not to walk on by.  As Jackie Pullinger says “love looks like something”.  Love can be sharing your food with the hungry, helping out a single mother, even inviting someone in for a coffee.

God is not interested in self-serving religion or religious activities that are devoid of His heart.  In Isaiah 58 He condemns those who fast because “in the day of your fast you find pleasure, and exploit all your labourers…Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I have chosen; to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and that you break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?” (verses 3-7)

Of course it’s not easy.  It’s not easy and it’s rather uncomfortable to allow yourself to see and identify with human need.  It wars against our fleshly nature which is constantly crying out to us “Comfort! Convenience!”

It’s been hard for me.  I am not going to pretend that I have found it easy.  The hardest part for me has been the intrusion upon my own time. I am naturally a bit of a hermit at heart.  I like my own time and space, and my own company.  But because we have a food
pantry that is operated from our garage we do often have people turn up unexpectedly and at inconvenient times.  In particular God has used one lady with serious mental health issues to crucify my flesh.  It has been painful.  From the start the Holy Spirit told me to never reject her, even in my heart.  That has been hard and I admit, I have not always been able to do it.

But today again she came.  I invited her in for a coffee.  We spent a lovely time together and she ministered to me by singing songs the Holy Ghost had given her.

“I refuse to give up

I refuse to give in

I keep hanging on to the King of Kings

The Lord of Lords…”

As she was leaving my home she turned to me and said “Thank you for always making me feel welcome.  Don’t’ ever lose that.  It is so important to people who have been rejected.”

OH God, help us to hear the cry of your heart and to do it! To become people of action, rather than just of words! To do something, anything!

Love looks like something.

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The Night I Met Evie

Reflections of headlights flashed on the puddles as twilight set in.

I walked from the car-park looking for the others.

When I got to the corner where I was supposed to meet them, they weren’t there.

Where could they be?

I crossed the busy intersection to the other side, but they weren’t there either.

Hmmmm….

So down to the tunnel I went, the rain drops falling on my hair.

The entrance to the tunnel was busy but I made my way through.

Gosh, I didn’t realise how long this tunnel was.  Past a busker winking at me, past the jostling crowds, out the other side.

I walked a little along the river, looked around, but, no, they weren’t there either.

Now I really don’t know what to do.

I stop to think.  I turn slightly and that’s when I see Evie.

Although it’s not until later that I learn her name.

Sitting at the end of the bridge begging.  Her head in her hands, behind the scrawled sign “Please help”.

She looks so young.

I go over and sit with her, behind her sign.

“Hi”

“Hi”

“What are you doing here?”

She is homeless, spent the last few nights on the street.

She tells me that everything has been stolen from her as she had slept, her purse, her jumper, even her sanitary pads.

She says that she has a permanent place to go into on Monday, but it’s Friday and she needs help to get through the next two days.

I sit with her. I tell her about Jesus.  She says, “That’s funny, everyone keeps telling me about Him.”

Even as we speak someone walks past and drops a gospel tract into her begging container.

She points to a man begging in the middle of the bridge.

“He’s mad at me, I have to watch out for him, I’m in his patch and taking his business from him. He’s a druggy.”

We have dinner together and afterward I put her in touch with a women’s shelter, I say that I will pray for her and we part.

I walk back along the river, back through the tunnel.

Back to where I was originally meant to meet with the other street preachers.

And I see them.  Right there. They have been there all along.

I had walked right by them and not seen them.  Somehow.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Tuesday night I pray.  I pray for Evie and other stuff.  I wait on God.

He says to me, clear as anything, “Go to Evie.”

Huh?

“Go to Evie.”

But Lord, she moved into a place yesterday, she is fine now.

“Go to Evie.”

But Lord, she’s not there at the bridge anymore

“She will be there, go to Evie.”

Ok. If you give me an opportunity to go, I will go to her.

Thursday afternoon.

My parents drop in and say they will mind my son.

I drive into the city.

The whole way there I think that I must be crazy, what am I doing?  I could be sitting child-free in a café somewhere…

But I go anyway.

The car parked, I get out, walk. Then, for some reason, I start to run.  I run and run to the bridge.  I come over the crest and look to see if she is there.

She is there.  She is begging.

I run to her, out of breath.

“Evie! what are you doing here? You were meant to move in to a place on Monday!”

She looks at me and says “Why are you running?” as only a teenager can.

I laugh, embarrassed, because I don’t know why I’m running myself.

Then she says “The place didn’t work out”

We have lunch.

Turns out she had gotten to the bridge five minutes before I arrived.

Another time she met my husband and we went out to dinner.

She came to my home once.

She said she was bringing someone for me to meet.

(Please God don’t let it be a man.)

I go out to meet her in the drive-way and she’s carrying a baby girl.

18 month old Rose.

Rose had been removed, but was now returned to her mum, Evie.

Because, Evie tells me, a house has become available for her.

Her boyfriend is getting out of jail

and her mum is coming to live with them too.

They stay for a while.  Rose is so sweet.  Evie is too.

That’s the last time I see her.

She moved into the house with her daughter, boyfriend and mum.

It’s far from here.

But she texts me and tells me that they’re doing well.

…….God didn’t let me see the friends I was meant to meet that night

Instead He wanted me to meet Evie,

A young mum,

homeless

daughterless

penniless

hopeless

But He knew.

And He had His eye on little Rose the whole time.

Truly His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.