“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” James 1:21
The moment you can impact someone’s life is probably single-handedly the most triumphant part of your life. Knowing that you can impact someone through the love of Jesus is exhilarating, even if it is in a small way.
The streets were buzzing with people on a Saturday morning. I was at the local market with my brother and his wife, Devon and Christiana, and one of our friends, Jenni. As we walked through the streets of downtown Boston site seeing and shopping at local stops, I hear children laughing, people shouting, and cars honking. I see couples holding hands, people walking briskly through the crowd trying to get to their next destination, taxi drivers picking up passengers on corners, and I see a few homeless people begging for money. It was an overall busy Saturday.
I walk by this homeless man who was sitting on the corner of a building, with a cup in his hand, begging for money. If I saw him anywhere else, I wouldn’t have thought he was homeless. He was dressed nicely, hair was trimmed short, and he carried himself with a confidence. This man, I never would have thought had no place to call home.
“Ma’am,” he calls out to me, reaching out his hand, “I’m getting sick of being homeless. Can you please help a fella out?” He looked at me with such urgency and intensity I wasn’t sure on how to deal with.
I smiled at him, nodded, dropped a couple of dollars in his cup, and continued on my way.
After a few steps, I heard the familiar voice say to me, “Katie. You have $20. You don’t need it. Buy him lunch and then give him the $20.”
“But, God,” I pleaded, “I’m here for vacation. This is my spending money.”
“So you’d rather spend your money on things you don’t need than give the money to someone who actually needs it.”
I stopped in my tracks and stood still on the sidewalk. The others walked on without me, deep in conversation with each other.
“Guys, wait up,” I called out, still standing in the same spot where I stopped.
Devon, Christiana, and Jenni turned around.
“Can you hold on for a second? I need to go back to that guy,” I asked, holding up a finger.
Devon looks at Christiana with a look of confusion, looks at me, shrugs and says, “Sure. We’ll go with you.”
“Great.” I turned around and ran up to the guy.
The guy looks up startled.
“I didn’t catch your name. What was it?”
I smiled big at him and reached out my hand for him to shake, which he did. “Nice to meet you! I’d love to buy you lunch. Where would you like to go?”
He looks at me, shocked. “You came back just for me?” he asked, pointing at his chest, eyebrows raising and mouth dropping a bit.
“Absolutely. Why wouldn’t I? Where would you like to go?”
He looks at me and I saw tears welling up in his eyes. He clears his throat. “Anywhere is good for me as long as I get food.”
“Okay. How about Panera Bread?”
He got up, leaving his book bag at the spot he was sitting at.
“Hey, aren’t you going to grab your book bag?” Jenni asked.
He looks at her and shrugs. “No one will take it. I’m a veteran and no one would steal from a veteran. I need to save my spot anyways.”
As we walked into Panera, Bo told us his story about how he was quite successful, how he owned a condo, had a high paying job, and was even in the military. Now, he’s homeless. On the street for four months. He kept telling us how he never thought he’d be there, how he’s not like that. He was living in condemnation.
He is so young, I thought. Probably between 30-35. Who would have thought that someone who was so successful could become homeless? My heart broke for him.
Give him the $20, I heard again.
“I can’t,” I prayed. “It’s my only cash that I have for today.” So, so, so selfish.
You don’t need it.
We head back to the place where he was sitting. The book bag that he had confidently said no one would take was now gone.
He looks at the place where his bag once was, his face broke. “Great,” he says loudly. “My stuff was stolen.” Everything he had was gone in just a moment.
I look at him and I felt my throat clog up with emotion. I swallowed.
Give him the $20.
Jenni reaches in her purse, pulls out a $20. “Here,” she says. I look at her in disbelief.
I look at him, “Make that another $20. I don’t need it,” I said as I handed him the $20 that was conveniently sitting in my wallet.
Tears fill his eyes, his mouth gaping open a little. “You guys don’t need to do that just because my stuff was stolen.”
I smiled, “Of course we do. We care about you. Please take it. God wants to bless you.”
He looks at me and breaks out in a huge grin, tears still in his eyes. “I can’t refuse the money. I need it.”
He takes the money and puts it in his cup.
“Bo,” I continue. “We came back because we care about you, I know that might possibly sound strange to you. God loves you. I don’t know where you’re at with God, if you believe in Him or what, but I hope that one day you feel him. I hope that one day you encounter Him in a mighty way. He changes hearts and he changes lives. I was an atheist Bo, and he came to me in such the nick of time when I needed him the most. He cares for you so much.”
“I am frustrated with God,” he admits, and he puts his head down.
I put my hand on his shoulder and said, “Bo, it’s okay. I get mad at God at times, too. I can’t wait for what the future holds for you. Would you mind if we pray for you?”
After he said yes, I prayed for him, asking that God makes himself known to Bo.
Bo looks up afterwards, and smiles. “Can I have a hug?”
“Absolutely!” After we hugged, I told him it was an honor and such a pleasure to have met him.
We said our goodbyes, and as we walked away, he calls out to me and Jenni, laughing, “Now that I have money, can I take you girls out on a date?” Smiling, I looked back and waved. As I turned back around, I felt the tears at the back of my eyes. Bo is loved by so many. Would you take your time to pray for him?
When you impact someone’s life, it impacts you.
Well, here we are. Another Thanksgiving has passed us by….and knowing that you aren’t here to share it with me.
I can’t remember your voice; I don’t remember your face.
You’re only a distant memory.
The dreaded news arrived two years ago on Thanksgiving, saying that my hero, the man that I love and look up to, the man I called “goofy” for so many years because he was beyond silly and loved me, was dying and he only had either a few weeks to live or a few months.
He lasted for five weeks.
I came home for Christmas break from college my Junior year and I remember that he became worst. My Dad took me to see him. He was lying in bed, and I remembered his eyes had lit up when he saw me walk into the room, and he uttered one word: “Katie.”
He knew me.
Tears streamed down my face as I went over and hugged him and kissed him on his cheek and whispered, “Don’t leave me.”
I watched him struggle to survive to remain alive for us.
Christmas came and it was only a matter of time until he was gone from this earth.
Then New Years Eve had come.
And you were gone.
You took your final breath on the first day of the new years.
And I went back to college.
I was alone on campus; I had no one to talk to. No one cared what just happened three days prior.
My world was shaken and nothing was helping me. “Friends” weren’t there; the things that I used to love weren’t comforting me. I stayed in bed, I skipped meals, I missed classes….and no one was there asking what was wrong.
I walked alone and it all felt like a dream. The only people who were there were family that lived an hour away and had no way of getting to them except for weekends.
I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving. I don’t like Christmas. I don’t enjoy New Years. Because those were the moments that I had to see you suffer and die.
I dreaded today. And yes, although I laughed and smiled today, I looked at an empty chair and just thought: “He should be sitting here. You should be sitting here with your wife and with your sons and daughters.”
And you’re not.
You are just a faded memory.
And this is what kills me the most.
“I don’t want to get out of bed,” I grumbled, as the birds chirped loudly outside my bedroom window. I rolled over with a loud groan, pulling the covers over my head.
“It’s time to get out of bed. It’s a new day,” said the voice I am so accustomed to hearing every morning.
I smiled under my covers. I could never escape his voice, even as hard as I try.
“Well, too bad. It’s not going to happen,” I joked.
“Katie, you know you’re going to get out of bed eventually. So why not just do it now?” he responded, laughing at my attempts of fighting him, because we both know he would win in my stubbornness.
“Okay, okay…I’m getting up,” I said, throwing the covers off of me. I sat up, putting my feet on the floor and wiggled my toes into the carpet. “But,” I said, stretching, “I will get out of bed just for you. Today better be a great day, ya know, if you’re forcing me to get out of bed! I was enjoying a great dream!”
“Of course it’s going to be a great day!” he exclaimed, acting as if I should know better, “I created it! I made it for you to enjoy!” I could picture Him sweeping His hand across the span of creation, showing it off to me, getting excited because He wanted to see if I would get excited, too. It reminded me of a child who did something for his parents in art class and wanted to show off his creation to his Mom and Dad. I could sense His excitement and His desire to show off the day to me, just like the kid in art class. He seemed so energetic over something I take for granted on a regular basis.
“God, can I ask You a question?” I said, with bold confidence, knowing He wouldn’t strike me down with lightening just because I was wondering.
“Katie, why ask when you already know my answer?” He replied, and I heard a smile in His voice.
“Why get so excited for the day?” I peeked out of the blinds to see what the weather was like and it was disappointing. “It’s raining for crying out loud, God! Why get so excited for something so horrible?” (I was being a bit over-dramatic…..)
“Because there’s purpose for the rain for other people. I’m blessing others in order for them to see the fruits. There may be a farm out somewhere needing the rain. There’s purpose. There’s hope after troubles, and there’s hope for people after the rain. There’s purpose in everything I do. I am an intentional God. Why look at the negatives when there are so many positives in the rain, in the troubles? Now, why aren’t you excited?”
“Because I just want the sunshine,” I muttered under my breath, as I grabbed my hoody from my dresser and put it on. “And it’s cold,” I said, with feigned snappiness, as I walked around my room getting ready for the day. Personally, I like the rain. But I wasn’t going to admit that to God (even though He knew).
“So, let me get this straight. You would rather be in your bed, and be complacent, instead of going forward and experiencing the plans I have for you today?”
“If it means I can sleep, then yes!” I said joking, but felt a little bit uneasy because I knew what He said was true.
“Why miss out?” He whispered, and I stopped dead in my tracks. I know when God’s voice becomes nothing but a whisper, He means business and He’s about to deliver a live-changing message to me.
“God, I’m trying,” as I picked up a coffee mug from my dresser about to fill it up with some tea. “I’m just getting tired of trying all the time and getting nowhere. You know I’m a fighter. I’ve been a fighter my whole life. But now, I’m tired and I just want to give up.”
“You know why, okay? Why ask me when You already know the answer?” I retorted.
“Yes, I do know. However it’s not for Me to know, but for you to examine why you feel like this. And maybe I just want to talk to you.”
“You sound like a counselor….”I grumbled.
“Well, they don’t call me Counselor for no reason. Now, tell Me. Why give up?”
“Because it’s hard to keep going,” I said, my voice cracking with emotion.
“Katie,” He said gently, “When you give up, you miss out. When you give up, you lose. It’s only when you keep going, you will win. Because you have Me fighting your battles.”
“Then why is it so hard if you’re fighting for me? I would think if you were fighting my battles, it’d be much easier.”
“’If’ I’m fighting your battles? Let me make something clear: I AM fighting your battles. There’s no ‘if’ to it. Life can be difficult. There’s going to be problems. But the reason why it’s very difficult for you is because you aren’t letting Me fight. You’re fighting all on your own.”
“I know, God. I’ve just been hurting lately. I just don’t want to get out and do things, because I’m exhausted. Emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. I love you so much, God, and I don’t know why I’m not surrendering this area to You. I surrender so much to You, but for some reason, this is a real struggle.”
“Oh, I know why it’s a real struggle with you,” he said affectionately. “ I know you would gladly die for Me; I know when I ask you to do something, you will do it joyfully. You would do anything to please Me and I see your heart. But…you are human and there are still things in your life you don’t want to give up on. You would rather be in control and would rather trust in yourself than in Me.”
“Ouch,” I said, a bit embarrassed, “But…” I paused, “…you are right….” I said weakly.
“And,” God continued, “The reason you want to stay in bed is because you would rather take control of the day on your own and not have to ‘deal’ with hurts from others. You’d rather be complacent. So it’s not even about being too tired to get out of bed. You stay in bed and you remain in hiding because you don’t want to deal. When you stay in hiding, you don’t see what I have planned for you. You miss out. You think that if you stay in hiding, I will bring my plans to you. And yes, I can, but what if I have appointed you to be someplace else (not in darkness) on this certain day and you decide to stay in hiding? I’m not going to change my plans to please you. When I call you to move out, I mean, ‘MOVE OUT!’ Don’t remain. Get up. Get going because there is purpose beyond the rain, beyond the pain. You will never see a rainbow until you get out to see it. You will never see the rainbow when you’re inside, because it’s outside. I have called you to walk in the light, I have brought you out of the darkness. Why stay in it any longer? And the reason you don’t experience my plans for you during the day is because you don’t ask. If you just looked, opened up your eyes, and ask Me to show you, you will see all the surprises I have for you. But you get too distracted during the day and you miss out. Don’t live a life of complacency, but live a life of expectancy.”
Silence. God dumbfounded me. For the first time in a while, God left my breathless, with no words and no thoughts. I knew He was right.
“God,” I sighed, “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for living a life of complacency. I want to give my all to You and I realize when I don’t give my all to You, I enter the door of complacency and it overflows to my daily life. I want to change. I need to change. Forgive me for not giving You my whole life and for holding onto things. I will no longer stay in darkness and be complacent, but I will fight for You.”
“I created this day for you. I forgive you. Remember that I am your strength in your complacency. When you’re weak, I am strong and I give you the strength. You’re not alone in this for I am with you. Wanna come out and take a walk with Me and see what I have for you today? Let’s journey on this thing called life together?”
“I would love to!” I said, with a huge smile on my face, as I left my bedroom and walked outside.
Behind the Scenes:
I wrote this after reading a Scripture that really spoke to me. It’s found in Acts and it was when Peter and John continued to proclaim the name of Jesus. They became successful with their ministry and led many people to Christ. Even Peter’s shadow was healing people! Unfortunately, the Sadducees (the people who didn’t believe in resurrection…so were totally against Jesus since He did resurrect from the dead) and the high priest became irate and arrested the apostles. They pretty much told them, “Well, I told you NOT to talk about Jesus so if you’re going to continue, we WILL arrest you.” But, they kept fighting, saying, “We need to obey God and not you.” What caught my attention was that they fought, even through the battles. They weren’t complacent. They didn’t’ stay in “bed” but chose to go forth and still do ministry, even if there were troubles. The conversation that you just read wasn’t just a one-time thing. It was tid-bits of conversations that I had with God. So they all happened, but over the span of a few weeks. It wasn’t until I read this passage that I felt led to write up a blog about it.
Hey everyone!🙂 I am working on a few blogs. But, until I post them, here’s a song that I just discovered by Sleeping Giant🙂
Bind my hands, I stand at the gates of hell
Though you defy me flames, I deny you death itself
You and I make confession
I feel that rain fall down
Let the rain fall
Oh my God let the chains fall, as it falls I’m covered
Let it all, let it all fall down
The accuser is furious
In his fake tattered gown
He’s pointing his finger, holding me down, then the light breaks
A voice speaks, “my child, this won’t last for long”
Oh demon I’ve something to show you
“My son rise up now sing him your song!”
So I sing out
“Look how you’ve fallen, Morningstar!”
You once covered the throne in praise, You fake now look where you are
I will never bow my knee again, in sin and shame
I have witnessed your defeat, I know your schemes your games,
I have been covered in the blood of the faithful one
Jesus Cover Me in Your Blood
“Confession” by Sleeping Giant
Come and consume God, all we are We give You permission, our hearts are Yours We want You, We want You
My new favorite song! :)
O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
I don’t know about you, but I am the type of girl that if I need to remember something, I write a small note on the inside of my hand. Throughout the day, I find myself looking at the notes which are on my palms to be reminded of what I need to do. For some reason, paper and a pen are not enough. Having it on my hand helps me to remember.
This reminds me of the promise that God has given to us.
“Behold, I have graven you upon the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:16.
God has engraved my name and yours in the palm of His hands. Zion was saying to God how He has forgotten about them, and God made a very good point by saying: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). He is constantly thinking about you because You are on the palms of His hand. He’s saying, “People may forget about you, but I never will.”
The word graven comes from the Hebrew word chaqaq. It means to “cut in.” Literally. The notes I have written on my hand will become washed off and within a few days, I will forget about the notes I wrote just days before. But my name and your name will never, ever be washed out of the palms of God. Because it’s cut in, it’s carved in. It’s not written with pen. Your name is marked on the hands of Christ and nothing will ever take that away.
What I Need – Heather Donnell & Ben Spencer
Copyright © 2009 | Ee-Taow Records | EMI Publishing
I’ve been quick on my feet
But slow to sit at yours
I thought I’d come so far
Still I’m longing for more
What I need is new life
What I seek is to know Christ
I am tired and worn from trying on my own
So I fall on my knees again
Loves are promising
Distractions surround me
At times I cannot see
Still I hear you beckoning
It is your silent voice
That’s louder than the noise
Your words I need to hear
I will wait and draw near
What I need and what I know
What I seek is the same
Jesus Christ and Him alone
Foundation of my soul