Ohhh Belinda Carlisle, thank you for singing that song in such a way that years after I danced to it with my side ponytail in front of my parents' boombox, it would still resonate in my head everytime I thought about the start of the work week.
Some days I just come home and am restless. I scan the block for kids as I park . . . I get the ministry itch. . . . it becomes a necessity . . . especially after a phenomenal couple of days walking with my Father. Like I am going to burst unless I can just show Him off to the world.
The days I tend to love most . . . days when ministry isn’t complicated- there isn’t drama, there isn’t confusing conversation or miscommunication, but just the Spirit indwelled showing up and the lost coming to receive . . . I call these days Mondays. Mostly because that is when the homeless get fed on the parkway.
There aren’t theological debates over ecclesiology or missiology . . . but just some hungry people needing to be fed and some other people that love Jesus and happen to have coolers full of hot meals for them to eat. So they line up, and we show up and it is a seamless system of handing out hotdogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a unique creation we call tuna pasta.
Today the weather was gorgeous and the line was long. There were four girls that I had never met before that showed up (apparently they were there last week, but I was forced to miss this commitment last week) that we already stationed at the coolers, doing a phenomenal job of dishing out the food, smiles and blessings. Today I not only got to experience the meal, but I got to sit and talk and be loved on by Calvin. Ooohhhh Calvin! Cal was homeless for decades before recently being placed in an apartment not far from where I teach.
I don’t think Calvin had any idea who he was sitting and talking to today on the bench. I have known him for a little over two years now, so I don’t mean he doesn’t know who I am. . . I just don’t think he realized how tired I have been lately. . . waiting for school to end, working through health stuff and all of the small exhaustions that come with ministry. He has no idea how he ministered to my soul this afternoon.
Immediately I was greeted with a huge hug that just made my heart want to burst into a million pieces. He was genuinely really excited to see me, genuinely really excited to hug me, genuinely really excited to sit and talk with me. Then something funny happened. I was sitting with Calvin at the meal, talking on the park bench and laughing, laughing, laughing. These moments of joy – when you catch yourself in the midst of life and you are struck with complete joy at being exactly where God has you – exactly in the palm of His hand – smack in the middle of His great plan. Calvin shared one of these moments with me today. I felt loved by the Father and loved by Calvin.
He was such a gentleman that he even bought me a soda from one of the other homeless guys that brings a cooler around each week – selling cigarettes and cold drinks. The first thought that comes to your mind when a former homeless man offers to buy you a soda is – I can’t take something from him. . . but then I remember the blessings I feel from simply giving something – however small, material or immaterial – the feeling that God is gracing me with a chance to live out the creed “whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me” and I thought in some way that by denying the soda, I would be denying Calvin that blessing.
So it could be debated whether or not it was a wise choice to allow Calvin to buy me a soda, but it seemed to be what would glorify God in that moment. To realize that Calvin had just as much a right to buy me a soda as I had to serve the men that looped around the block hotdogs and tuna pasta.
Today was a great day. My students drove me nuts. . . . I am getting the feeling of I-can’t-get-out-of-here-soon-enough but then one (not a particularly mild mannered one) was out of her mind with worry as she told the computer teacher that I had a meeting with the principal. So I’m thankful for the computer teacher sharing that, because its stories like that when I see that old, faithful, gracious hand of the Father reminding me that I am exactly in the middle of His plan for me, for this Creation of His. Moments like getting a soda from Calvin and laughing on the park bench in the middle of 200 homeless men and women.
I read something recently about peace. The author shared that in the life of Jesus there was chaos, lack of stability, lack of routine and all the things humans depend on to find rest, but Jesus always worked from a place of rest. It may not always be sitting by a quiet stream that we find rest, but in the bustle of the sinful world surrounding us that we catch glimpses of Who our Creator is, and are reminded of His greatness and the greatness of His plan. . . and we find rest in KNOWING that. In thinking upon THAT. Contentment and rest is not necessarily being ok with where you are – but being ok with the fact that at any and every moment, God is in control of where you are and what you are doing.
We choose to find rest in this. This is one of the great blessings of knowing Him. Finding unique, unexplainable rest.