The First Blessing Bag

*DISCLAIMER: This is NOT an attempt to call attention or praise to myself. This is NOT so people will read this and say, “Wow Jordan, you’re such a nice guy.” To God be the Glory.

Some of you may remember my post about the blessing bags and how enthusiastic I was to start handing them out. Truthfully, up until today I hadn’t given a single one away. Now this wasn’t fully intentional; I simply don’t see a lot of pedestrians on the way to work. Over time, as my truck became crowded with my family’s things from trips and my own personal stuff, the blessing bag, which was placed behind the passenger seat, fell over and the items began to scatter. I occasionally would drive by someone in need and instantly think of it, but I knew the bag was unprepared and frankly I couldn’t be bothered to go in the back and fix it.

Let’s stop right there and reflect on what I just said. There’s such a profoundly true metaphor in this; I wanted to do good, wanted to serve others, and wanted to be in God’s will, but I was too concerned with the culture of Me. My endeavors and my priorities and my life crowded out my calling to establish the Kingdom of God on earth through service to others. Wow.

So I woke up late and rushed out of the apartment for a 6am workout. As I’m driving through town, something catches my eye: a man in a dirty oversized sweater is going through a garbage can.

And I kept driving.

Let’s pause again for reflections sake. Now I’m not here to downplay anyone’s financial issues. Money problems are real and they’re heavy burdens. But there’s nothing like seeing the desperation of someone going through public trash to put your financial situation in perspective.

Back to the story. I immediately found myself a) sympathizing with his poverty and b) making excuses trying to justify not helping him! My bag’s not ready. I’m already late for the gym. I run a tight schedule you know. Plus I slept awful last night and I’m really tired. In the middle of my excuses I heard it.

Go.

Oh c’mon God, like right now? I’ve got so much on my agenda today, I’ll catch him on the way back.

Go.

But I’m already so late…

Haven’t you prayed that your heart would be broken this year? Didn’t you just pray yesterday that you would be more sensitive to My voice? Well, here I am. Go.

I pulled into the nearest gas station, hopped out and started placing the items back in the bag. Out of nowhere, tears began welling up in my eyes. There’s something special about realizing that you’re serving your purpose in God’s story.

I pulled up to the man, who’s now sitting on a park bench, and upon further inspection I notice him rocking a bit and shaking uncontrollably. Next to him is some food that I suppose he had found in the garbage can and in his hand were two crack pipes. His hair was long and gray, his shoes were shot, his face was weathered by lifestyle and his eyes were full of pain. My heart sank.

“Are you okay man?” He held out his crack pipes and shrugged. I ran to the truck and handed him the bag. He inspected it a bit, looked at me and eeked out a small smile.

“Cracker Jacks!” he said in a hoarse voice as weathered as his face. He thanked me and went about his way. I made my way back to my truck, started the engine and wept.

That was not a homeless man. That was not a crackhead. That was someone’s son, maybe someone’s brother, possibly someone’s father; but above all, that was a child of God, someone so deeply loved by his Creator that He would send a fool like me to care for him. Humbled isn’t the word for it. I saw a stranger through the eyes of my Lord.

It’s amazing what happens when you break out of the culture of Me, even for a moment. Yesterday a pastor at Grace Community Church spoke of faith gone stale, a hamster wheel of religion and going through the motions of good behavior, a state I found myself in. The consequence is that it becomes easy to dismiss or ignore the touches of divinity around us. He advised to occasionally pray for a refresh, I did and mine came the next day.

There’s no real conclusion to this story, no promise to never miss God’s voice ever again, no resolution in which I go on in His perfect will forevermore. I will step and misstep again and again. This is just a blog, and I felt like bragging on my Lord. Blessed Love.

~Coach J

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