Walking around the Marysville neighborhood, we inquire about the sweet neighbors need for a meal for Thanksgiving. “Hi, we are from Calvary Chapel Marysville, the church just down the road, and we are wondering if you or anyone you know is in need of a Thanksgiving meal?”
We mostly receive pleasantly surprised looks when the people realize we aren’t doing a fundraiser, but are instead hoping to bless them with a meal.
Although, I have been a part of this outreach project in the past, I stumbled on the correct words a few times. I was caught off guard once when a woman turned the tables and instead of needing a meal, she wanted to know how she could join in our efforts. One neighbor became outraged as soon as she heard the word “church”. And the planner (a.k.a. me), didn’t have a plan about which addresses we were going to go to that day. All that to say, our outreach wasn’t polished or perfect.
When my 9-year-old and 11-year-old got in the car with me to head home from our time in the neighborhood, I saw my gospel tracts sitting on the seat next to me. “Oh, wow, how did I forget those?” I mumble under my breath, rolling my eyes at myself.
“What are you talking about, mom?” How do they ALWAYS hear me when I talk to myself?
“Oh, I had planned to give some of the neighbors some of these cards that have a gospel message on them…a missed opportunity,” I lower my head sadly.
“You’ve been saying that a lot lately, mom. You know about your ‘missed opportunities'”, my 11-year-old comments.
“Gee, thanks, I guess you are right,” I reply, in defeat.
Lord, was our time spent in vain? My prayer that morning was that we would share your love with the neighbors. Did anyone see your light in us today, Lord? I feel like I am seeing more of the opportunities you give me to love others, but am I just fooling myself?
The next day, our church secretary messaged me that three people contacted the church expressing their need for a meal! I was filled with mixed emotions. Sadness that in one afternoon, in two different apartment complexes near our church, we found three people that are struggling to feed their families. But, joy that our time was not in vain and the Lord’s love reached three different families.
Lord, please bless those three precious families. Please fill their refrigerators and pantries. Thank you for bringing us to their doors. Thank you for blessing our time of outreach. Thank you for their obedience and humility in contacting the church expressing their need. Please forgive me for being so close to these families, driving by them two, sometimes three or four times a week, and never stopping for them. Please show me how we can meet their biggest needs. Amen.
My heart is to help those in need. I have more than I need. I have enough to share. I have so much that I get distracted by all that I have.
My mind wanders to the story Shelene Bryan shared in Love, Skip, Jump where she meets a woman and her large family living in extreme poverty. Shelene immediately asks if she can pray for the woman, but the woman replies, “I was actually hoping to pray for you. ” “What, me? Why me?” Shelene asks. The woman replies, “Because you have so much to distract you from the Lord.” Shelene wrote about how she dropped to her knees and said, “Yes, pray for me, please do.”
This is me. So distracted at times by my “American wealth” that it requires me going to an orphanage in Mexico to focus on what the Lord really has for me. So distracted by my “to do list” that I have to drop everything and schedule in time at a low-income apartment complex asking about food needs. So distracted by my service to already blessed people that I sometimes miss the dire needs of “the least of these” right in front of me.
Although both my 11-year-old and I are noticing all of my “missed opportunities”, the Lord is blessing the time I am spending responding to His call. This time is not perfect or polished. My voice is sometimes shaky when I step out toward His call. Sometimes my naiveté gets in the way. At times, I am less than bold and regret my fears.
The enemy would love for me to focus on my “missed opportunities”. But, the Lord keeps taking those misses and giving me 2nd chances.
I go to Him in prayer, asking Him to give me His eyes, His words, His power, His Spirit. And the next time, that “missed opportunity” becomes my call from the Sovereign King.
Thank you, Lord, for what your word teaches and promises about your 2nd chances:
Isaiah 43:18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Job 33:29, “Behold, God works all these things. Twice, in fact, three times with a man”.
Jonah 3: 1-3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.