My to do list for the week is so very different than God’s to do list. He wants me to love His people. Is it OK to admit that I’m afraid to ask God some days – because I know what it means?
Enjoy the tale of an Egg Salad Sandwich…
LAST CHRISTMAS, I became buds with my mail man. That’s right – Casey and I are tight. Like cell phone chatting buds. My husband is cool with it.
We’ve shared tears over the potential of Light ‘Em Up in our community. He asked me if he could join me in serving the homeless – and I said YES!
So, we just went. We stuffed the fears, the weirdness, the awkwardness, the doubts.
We showed up.
We went downtown to the beautiful Lake Eola – where beautiful moms jog with babies and business men walk to Panera Bread and where every other bench has a homeless man or woman sleeping.
We brought bags of clothes and food and other supplies and just waited. Casey greeted folks that appeared homeless with such words, “Hey there – could you use anything today? Or know anyone that could use a hand? Food? Clothes?” And they started coming, dozens. The stories are huge. My girls and Ron caught on and started helping and serving.
Lannett walked up and we talked about food. She mentioned the kind of food that is often around the park and free. She was really craving an egg salad sandwich.
I told her I’d come back with one – one day,
I’ll come back Lannett with your egg salad sandwich.
She smiled and walked away. She told me where she lives – by that tree – by the rose bushes.
I am so ashamed. Do you know how many days a week I drive by that lake? Um, every day of the school week. Do you when I took the egg salad sandwich? Last week. That would be 4 months later. God never let me forget. I often heard the nudge or thought, “just take the egg salad sandwich.”
I contemplated taking the girls, but I knew I wanted to talk with her and pray with her. I knew Ron would be nervous about the whole situation. So, I finally went. I got us both lunches from a local yummy deli and chips and drinks.
I parked and started walking – texted friends to pray that Lannett would be there. Really? I’m praying a homeless woman is still living under a tree 4 months later? So, I won’t feel guilty about my delayed obedience. Absurd.
So, I walked and walked. Probabably about 1 mile or more around the lake. Passing dogs, pretty moms, kids playing, business men, homeless man, homeless woman, swans, geese and no sign of her. Praying and praying.
I passed one homeless woman and she said, “GOD LOVES YOU.” I smiled and mentally noted I was going back for her – if I didn’t find Lannett.
So, I went back to her and her friend on the bench.
“Hi, do you know Lannett?”
Lady: “Yes! Do you know it’s her BIRTHDAY! Is that why you are here?”
Trying to contain my tears that God is so UNREAL… I said, “I said, no, I didn’t know it’s her birthday but I’m so glad that it’s today. I have lunch for her and a gift – a Bible.”
So, I talked to those two friends for a while. They ate the two lunches and saved the bible for Lannett. They told me their stories. They told me about their kids and their grandkids and what they did when it rained.
My heart softening. My perspective widening. My guards crumbling down.
I asked them about their needs – just shorts, it’s getting hot. Just food.
I told them I WILL BE BACK TOMORROW, this exact time. The man joked, “not four months later like the egg sandwich and Lannett.” We laughed and I promised. Tomorrow.
I left to get them shorts and other clothes, called some contacts about a possible job for the man … and decided I better come back right away in case I missed them. And, wouldn’t you know it…
I turned down a random side street… and THERE WAS LANNETT.
I screamed her name out the window and totally freaked her out. She didn’t remember me. I pulled over and explained the whole story. She had walked MILES to Firehouse Subs for lunch with a gift card on her birthday. She had two blocks to go with her hand blazing red from carrying her life’s belongings in a huge suitcase with blankets on top. I said, “Please get in.”
She said, “Are you sure?”
I said, “Yes! Please let me take you back and can I stop and get your sandwich – because your friends ate it.”
She said, “No, this ride is great and I have a Bible – I’ll just share it with someone…. More talks… Somone is looking out for me today, huh?”
Teary, I said, “Do you believe in God?”
She responded, “Yes, I do. He died for my sins.”
I encouraged her, “Lannett, I believe in Him too and I don’t think it’s chance that I finally came on your birthday. He is looking out for you. I’m so glad to know you and I’ll be back. You take care.”
As we unloaded – she sheepishly asked for Larson’s crackers and then told me her sleeping mat was made by the mayor’s wife.
She closed the door and I cried. I prayed. I texted my friends that had prayed. I also love the queen of generosity was on twitter following the play-by-play with me – the inspiration behind Light ‘Em Up and the founder of The Birthday Project.
I LOVED that I got to pick up Ella at school and squeal and tell her every detail and she was beaming. She remember Lannett. She got it.
God is real my friends.
His list for our weeks is WAY better than anything we could ever dream up.
If you are skeptical of the homeless and their mental state and decisions to get there and physical state and stories and abuse and what they could do to or me or my family.
What would Jesus do?
Would he turn his back?
Would he do nothing?
I don’t want to post this to honor me. I just want you to know I’m scared too and I don’t know how to help these people. It’s seems so hopeless and there are ministires all over town doing amazing things for restoration. I just want to be obedient.
I want to listen and move. Even if delayed after FOUR darn months, sweet Lord of mine still used me to say ‘Happy Birthday Lannett! You are noticed and loved. You really are.”
I can’t buy everyone shorts and lunch today – but I can buy you three what you need for today. You are not alone and you are loved. Don’t give up.
So, let’s pray together this week, Lord, what’s the most important thing you have on YOUR LIST for me this week? Open my eyes to see the lives right in front of my path. Let me see them the way you would. Let me not get so busy that I miss what you’re doing. I want to be a part. I want my life to matter.
This isn’t a message about the homeless community – this is about God intersecting in our daily lives. What does He have this week for me and for you?
And by the way Bob Goff.. I thought of you often… #lovedoes. Your book is beyond impactful. Stay the course.