Last November the Local Outreach Department of my church asked my family to be the hosts for a Thanksgiving Day Outreach to our local Sheriffs Department. The Outreach Pastor wanted a few families to take a turkey dinner, with all the fixings, and share a meal with the men and women who work the holiday. Because of the shift the Deputies work, they often miss out on the chilly November day overeating tradition that many of us enjoy.
My husband and I accepted, and we appealed for help from the people in our weekly in home Bible study group. Several families gave up a portion of their day to serve those who serve and protect us. We did our best to make connections with the men and the women who were working, and to let them know how grateful we were for the sacrifices they make to insure our safety. It only took a few hours, and later we were still able to have a more traditional family meal with one of the families who had served alongside us.
And not surprisingly, that is not the end of the story. We serve a God who weaves a never ending tapestry and His handiwork is much more intricate than what we see in one day.
Starbucks seems to be the new place where we “run into” people when God wants to set up a divine appointment. At least it is for my husband, and sure enough, it was at our local Starbucks that he began to run into the same Deputy, time and again. On a couple occasions, it fit into their schedule to sit and have a coffee. A relationship was formed.
Two days ago my husband received a phone call from that Deputy. It seems that this Deputy had met a young woman who has made some really bad decisions and is now in a world of hurt. Based on the things my husband had shared with the deputy about our lives, it occurred to the Deputy that perhaps it would benefit the young woman if she could sit down and talk with me.
So, yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with a twenty-seven year old woman at a crossroads in her life. She was open and unassuming, and she took responsibility for the selfish way she has been living. It was an honor to share the truth of God’s love for her. She has to make some big changes in her life in her attempt to regain guardianship of her two-year old daughter, and there is no doubt that the first change is going to have to be who she makes the Lord of her life. She has hit rock bottom, and the good news is that because of the intervention of the Sheriff’s Department she can turn things around.
As for me, I am just pleased that I happen to belong to a church where I can serve in a way that isn’t merely a product of my vision. I see ways I want to serve the Lord, which is good. But I’m blessed by the Pastors in my church who have a vision for things I don’t see. The Local Outreach Department had a vision for a way our church could serve the Sheriff’s Department. Our family made ourselves available to that vision–even though it didn’t originate with us–and God has richly blessed us through that Thanksgiving Meal.
Yes, it’s August. Yes, it feels like it is four-hundred degrees outside. But, today, I am as thankful as if it were a chilly day in November.