Some remnants of the weekend snow and ice are still on the streets of Charlotte today.
I had picked up some PB&J earlier this weekend, hoping to put it to good use while crashing at a friend’s apartment (They call him Sam). Today I borrowed a knife from Sam’s silverware drawer and made seven sandwiches. Well, eight, but then I consumed one. The peanut butter was crunchy; the jelly, raspberry.
I spent a few hours reading, then some time thinking. I packed up the duffel bag I had brought for getting snowed in over the weekend (my car is basically a rolling suitcase, necessary supplies then appropriated to a duffel bag for the current adventure), and headed for my snow-free car in the parking deck. It was good to catch up with my friend Sam–we caught a sunset over the snowy city one evening. I visited his church family on Sunday. We drove around on the black ice in his minivan. We had some quality conversation about things that matter, namely Jesus.
My car started, first try, putting a smile on my face.
The heat warmed up, a genuine blessing.
I met my friend Carlos for lunch at Panera. He and I had salad. Carlos brought his friend Dave. Dave had a bowl of chili. We all shared tidbits of our stories. Somehow lunch lasted almost 2.5 hours; this phenomenon has been happening more and more lately. Community is a nice thing, fellowship a treat.
After our goodbyes, I met a man named Henry, who was riding a bicycle around the parking lot. He had a Carolina hoodie on. I was wearing my State hat. Neither of us are die hard fans. Henry wears the hoodie because he likes to be warm, I wear the hat because I don’t like having the sun in my eyes or “fixing” my hair in the mornings. Both are conversation starters nonetheless.
Henry told me he was hungry. I handed him two sandwiches, with the peanut butter spread on thick. I carry a few Bibles (I pick them up at Salvation Army/Goodwill), and I asked Henry if he had a copy of the Word. He said he sure did. I told him I would be praying for him and that I hoped he would stay warm. He said thank you, and we parted ways.
I drove around Charlotte for about 30 minutes, observing this city I have basically neglected. I haven’t avoided it like the plague or anything, I just haven’t gone there much. I haven’t felt much reason to be in the city. I grew up in a small town where I had everything I needed: Subway, What-a-burger, Food Lion, Dollar General, Circle K, Rick’s, friends, school, church (list not in order of importance).
God has taught me there is a time to be in the city, and a time to be in the small town. There is also a time to be in the rain forest, a time to be in the desert, a time to be on the streets, a time to be in a brick building or a skyscraper, a time to be the driver and a time to be driven. A time to be a leader, a time to be led. A time to give and a time to receive. A time to be poured out, only to be filled again.
There are a lot of different times, a lot of different seasons, and many different opportunities associated with each. The key is to realize one is not fundamentally better than the others; each is uniquely for His praise, to honor Him, to make Him distinctly known. Jesus, front and center, His magnificence, regardless of worldly circumstance–that’s what I want to be about. As believers, this is the only reason we are still breathing, still on the earth. I hope He will use me in a lot of different places, over all the different seasons, with all kinds of people, in a variety of unexpected ways.
If He places me in a small town for the next five decades, that would be such an opportunity for deep discipleship. If He moves me around, what a privilege to meet with people from different backgrounds and cultures, various mannerisms and ways of life, sharing the Good News. That was the primary privilege of 2016, and I would love for life to include more of the same.
Meeting with people for a few months, or a few years at a time, or only once, sharing Jesus. I just know that I want to live each “today” so that if it were my last, I’d go out on a worshipful note. Maybe I’ll finish this blog and drop dead (not how I prefer to go, but I’m perfectly okay with the possibility).
So, anyways, I don’t know which it will look like. Probably both, at different times. But I know where He had me today. Today included finding some guys and gals in the city who don’t have a house they go home to at night. They go to spots around the city, under bridges or behind bushes, or to a shelter if they can get in. Many of them stay hungry. I know there are people that feed Charlotte’s homeless population, regularly, but today God allowed me to hand out sandwiches, granola bars, beef jerky, Pop Tarts, and bottles of water. He allowed me to shake hands, share that they are loved by God, offer copies of the Word, offer some food or drink, and be a friend.
I’m glad God allows us to be used as part of His plan. He invites you and me to share in His purposes. Maybe check out Luke 14:12-24. He invites us to invite others. He uses us; not because He needs us, but because it is the delight of those who delight in Him, to be used. And He delights in that. Read that again. And again. And again.
He has entrusted us with His message of reconciliation (See 2 Corinthians 5, please). God has great love for man, fully displayed in Christ. We GET to share this message with the world. The world then has the opportunity to receive Jesus, to take up what He leads us to take up, to put down what He leads us to put down, or to continue living for other stuff. Many won’t receive Jesus; that’s a truth found in Scripture. But I’m convinced, wholeheartedly, that when we display Christ in word and deed and reflect Him well, many will receive Him. Many will choose relationship. Many will choose life abundant.
We GET to introduce them.
Today God didn’t entrust me with a pulpit, but He did entrust me with Pop Tarts and PB&J. He allowed me to learn some names after observing the landscape. He let me smile and pray with people I never would have met, had I not had this time and a small bag of food.
What has God entrusted you with, and how are you using your resources? How are you using your memory? How are you growing your people skills? How are you loving the lost, and building up the body of believers?
Read God’s Word. Examine your heart. Adjust accordingly. Ask for help. Ask Him. Live for what lasts. And spread the peanut butter on thick.
#LETMEINTRODUCEYOU #JESUSISLORD #befaithFULL
#loveGod #loveHisWord #loveothers
These are just scattered thoughts which flooded my head when I got home tonight. If they mean something to you, let me know. If not, thanks for taking a handful of minutes to read. I love y’all. I hope to be sharing more over the next several weeks. Have a great week two of 2017.