This week I had another specific example of how God works in my life….how He shows his providential hand and his love. After three weeks of driving a man to the county’s remote jail annex site weekly to visit his girlfriend, he was jailed, too…..both of them on violation of probation. So, on Monday I found myself visiting her to let her know what was going on and to make arrangements with her to get their small apartment cleaned out since the landlord was evicting them. I left the jail with a list of things to do on their behalf, as if I needed more things to add to my already lengthy list for the week. But I did them, though not without some grumbling under my breath as I hauled box after box of their cigarette smoke-filled clothing to my garage for short term storage.
I found myself doing some other atypical service acts on behalf of clients as the week went on. By Thursday, I was exhausted. As it would happen, my car also developed a problem, so my normally busy Thursday afternoon schedule had to accomodate dropping it off at the repair center and getting a ride to the office, where I spent the afternoon. Later in the afternoon, as I was considering calling my husband to come get me to pick up the car, a dear friend came by my office to pick up some books and volunteered to take me to the repair shop, which was on her way home. When I arrived the car wasn’t quite ready, but the wait actually turned out to be a pleasant quiet interlude in the busy week. Everything that had to get done got done and I arrived at the weekly meeting of Celebrate Recovery! relatively calm and together. Two hours earlier I had discovered that the planned speaker was canceling. So I took a few minutes of time while a friend put the food together and I prepared a message from our CR leaders’ guide on “Action”…..how necessary it is to put our beliefs and commitments into action, to “walk the walk” as well as “talking the talk”.
Before we began the worship time, a friend whom I see and talk to essentially only weekly at CR handed me an envelope and said “Open it later.” My friend knew nothing of my week, the trips to the prison, hauling the belongings, and the last minute change of speaker and topic that I’d had to handle. But when I began to teach on “Action”, I noticed an approving nod directed at me.
After the evening’s events, I finished cleaning up our CR stuff and headed for the car. Before leaving the parking lot I opened the envelope and found a card inside that thanked me for the things that I do on behalf of others and especially for the way my life’s commitment to Christ is reflected in my “ACTIONS”! I just smiled to myself, knowing that God had used my friend to give me a loving pat on the shoulder for doing things I didn’t have to do but that I did anyway – not for the individuals so much as for Christ. How many times this week did the Scripture from Matthew 25: 34-40 cross my mind as I reminded myself (or perhaps I should say as the Holy Spirit reminded me) to “do this for Christ”? I can’t even count them.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
I didn’t need the card and encouragement to do what I do for the Lord. I know His love for me and I experience His blessings everyday. But it is very dear to me that God knows that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the needs that present themselves to me and that I sometimes have difficulty staying in the right frame of mind to do them or to maintain the necessary boundaries to keep from being completely overcome by the world’s demands. And it is very dear to me that He places and uses friends in my life to support and encourage me in tangible ways in my ministry.
My friend who arrived at the office at just the right time to help me thought she was there on only her own mission. Another friend’s hand may have written the note and handed me the card, but God alone selected the time of its delivery and knew that it was coming at a moment in which it would really mean something to me personally. Thank you, Lord, for your messages and messengers.