The last two Mondays, we’ve driven all the way to Fresno for community outreach, asking God what He’s up to and where we can join in.Last week I met Deborah, a super sweet lady I was able to find because she shouted as she walked past, “God loves you! Your Father loves you very much! God is good!” When I came over to introduce myself and thank her for the encouragement, I asked if she wanted prayer for anything. She answered, “Oh, yes! Pray that God would get rid of anything that’s in the way of me doing His work!” naming some habits and fears she sought freedom from. And so we did. And afterward she laughed, saying, “Man, that’s the second time tonight God has sent someone to pray for me. He is GOOD!”
We talked for a while. She comes to the same park every night, walking as darkness falls over the city and calling out, “Jesus loves you! He loves you so much!” She’s known by the homeless people there. She looked like she may have been homeless herself, and moved slowly, using a walker… and yet when we asked if we could pray for her, the longing in her heart and the first thing on her mind was, ‘There’s things in the way of my giving all of myself to the work to which God has called me. I want to get rid of THOSE!’ Would I have a longing like Deborah’s.
Yesterday I was introduced to Robert. He’s in a wheelchair with a bum knee and a broken leg, and has a hard time enunciating because he’s missing his dentures. He also has an unwavering light in his eyes, unable to stop talking about the Jesus who has rescued him. He laughed as he told us about how some guys who were hopped up on drugs wanted to jump him one night, suddenly they were scared off or lulled to sleep because he started talking about God and didn’t stop until the sun came up. He talked about the God who freed him from an angry, bitter heart, the One on whom he calls each night as he falls asleep on the streets: “Thy will be done. Lead me in the paths of righteousness; Your grace is sufficient for me.” He says he never knows whether he’ll wake up or not the next morning, but he knows that either way it’s in God’s hands, and Robert is unafraid because God has him here for a purpose and He’ll take him home when he’s done. And so he wakes up each day and starts singing, riding the bus one way or another across town, talking to people about the God who brought him life. He says he never knows what words to say, but he asks God to give them to him and He always does.
Robert is so certain that God has purpose for him in the lives of the people around him. And he is so certain that God will have His hand of protection completely over him until he is done with all God has given him to accomplish. He has no fear, and no lack. He didn’t beg, lament about his life, or complain. He spoke truth over and over as we sat with him, holding his dinner in his lap and preferring to share conversation instead. We sat at his feet for most of it, having prayed for his legs and then finding ourselves so blessed by his simple words of faith.
I am so humbled by Robert. So honored to have sat on the curb with him for an hour as he shared stories of his life. So challenged by his perfect contentment in the midst of earthly poverty because he knew he’d found the Treasure.
He, too, laughed as we left, saying we were not the first group to stop and pray for him this week. And he laughed as he said, “I won’t say goodbye to you girls, it’s ‘See you later.’ Although maybe not next week, because God might have me on the east side of town and you on the west, or the other way ‘round, it’s up to Him! We have work to do. But I’m sure glad He brought us together for now.” Me too, Robert. Would I have faith so sure as yours.