“…Who has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done, but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”-2 Timothy 1:9
“Here, try this pair,” I said to him. His shaky hand took the eyeglasses and he put them on his face. He grabbed the bible and looked at the words on the pages. Then his mouth erupted into a big grin. “I can see the words, I can read my bible! Bless you,” he said to me. All I did was hand him a pair of free glasses, under the overpass in New Orleans on a brisk day in January, and he was ecstatic. Yes, he did bless me.
My family and I try to go once a month to downtown New Orleans to feed the homeless. We have met a wonderful couple, Cliff & Kim, who devote their time, energy, and resources to help people in need. I remember the first time we volunteered with our son a couple of years ago. I was extremely nervous to put my child in the midst of homeless adults and could only think the worst possible thoughts. Boy, I was wrong. It was easy to be on the outside and look into the secret, dark, and dirty world of living on the streets and to pass judgment. They must be lazy, they must be addicts, and they must have done something terrible and this is why no one in their family wants to help. God whispered to me, “look a little closer and talk to them. Find out their story.” And I did.
I met a man, who had to have dialysis four times a week, and because of this, he could not hold a job. Since he could not hold a job, he had to live in a shelter close to the dialysis center. His family was scattered all over the United States, and he did not have the money to move and be close to them. He was so appreciative of the hot meal we brought to him. He was so thankful for living to see another day.
I met a young man in his twenties who ran away from home because he could not stand the rules being imposed on him. He got hooked on drugs and was too ashamed to go back home. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to get clean, but he was surviving on the streets. He had not talked to his family in over three years.
I met a young woman with two small children. My heart ached thinking these precious children would be living on the streets. Thankfully, they had a small apartment they lived in and mom needed some help with a home cooked meal for her and the children on this particular day.
As much as the stories here tugged on my heart and made me thankful for my own circumstances, they also have brought clarity to why I need to be there and offer some food or pass out some free clothes, bibles, or glasses. It is about grace. As a Christ follower, I have been showered with abundant grace from God. I feel His mercy and favor in my life and I want others to benefit from His providence. This should apply to all people in my life, not only the homeless.
I have unresolved issues with others and need to forgive or ask to be forgiven. There are people in my life who have different opinions and beliefs and I need to honor and respect their views. There are individuals who need kind words of encouragement instead of defeating statements. I can control my actions in my close circle and want to demonstrate favor, mercy, and kindness instead of setting up hurdles of impediment and condemnation.
If we all took one step in extending grace to those close to us or complete strangers, think of the change it could make in all of us. I hope to inspire others to evaluate their own situations and see how they can discover the blessings in reaching outside of their comfort zone and spread some grace.
**I volunteer for a couple of different organizations and listed below are the websites if you would like some more information. Blessings!**
Mission: Ragan’s HOPE, is committed to helping parents of children with serious ongoing medical conditions or injuries endure the initial impact and embrace the future, in the name of Christ.
Our Good Shepard Ministries
Our mission is to glorify God by reaching hurting people and helping them rebuild their lives in a positive way. We are reaching out to the homeless, hurting and any other people in need to give them a “helping hand” in an effort to move forward with their lives in a positive way by providing basic life necessities (food, clothing, furniture, household items) while at the same time showing them the Love of Jesus and helping them to understand they are valuable, loved and not forgotten.