Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Amazing Evening!!

It has been a tiring week... Last week I had a 2 evening show for my jewelry and then Monday and Tuesday this week, I did an Open House at our house...  I love doing the shows, but they can be exhausting (lots of physical labor and late hours) and draining (I tend to be more introverted) so being 'ON' for that many hours is sometimes difficult.  Add to that the emotional drain of my grandmother's passing and her not being with us for Christmas, and I'm just tired.

But for tonight, I had signed our family up to go and serve dinner at a local ministry that is a rehab facility for men struggling with addiction.  I admit, I grumbled inwardly all day because I'm so behind and Christmas is just 2 days away...  I even thought about telling my husband to go without me because I was at that place of tired where it seemed like tears would spill over at any minute...  But there was something in me that wanted to go simply out of obedience to what God tells us to do...  So I kept my grumblings to myself, put on my best face and went.

I was nervous...  I always am in new situations like this...  What would I say?  How do I act?  What if I accidentally offend someone?

We arrived about an hour before dinner and the first person I saw was a dear, sweet friend of mine and her family...  It was their first time too, what a gift to get to serve with them!  We were given our assignments so that everything would be ready and then G., who coordinates our group from church spent some time talking to us about what to expect...  All of the men are battling addiction...  So we were to serve them dinner and then get a plate for ourselves and go and sit with them. 

I had NO clue what to talk about...  But G. told us not to worry, God would give us words...  Right on schedule the doors opened and the men filed in...  They seemed genuinely pleased to see us...  They had us introduce ourselves and one of our group offered a blessing...  And then the men filed through the food line. 

And at that moment, my heart started to break...  Men of all ages...  All different backgrounds...  Addiction is color blind...  culture blind...  class blind...  It grabs hold of whoever is vulnerable and takes them captive to a life that no one would choose...  For the first 15 minutes I fought tears...  But they were so happy...  So grateful to us for showing up to serve...  I looked around and saw a room full of hope!  A room where Jesus, through His servants, is setting the captives free!  It was AMAZING!

As the line dwindled, I knew the time was approaching when I would need to get a plate and find a place to sit...  I did and it was just as G. had said, the conversation came naturally...  No uncomfortable lulls...  no awkward pauses...  The men we talked to knew the mercy and grace of God in a very real way and they were happy sing His praise...

The last man left and even though 2 hours had passed, it seemed like a few minutes...  And it was time for us to go.  I could have stayed the evening, especially talking to one very special gentleman...  There was just something about his spirit...  You could tell he had been broken, but he was a man with faith...  Faith that his Heavenly Father loved him...  Faith that he would know victory in the battle of addiction...  Faith that God had a very special plan for his life...  The man was full of hope! 

I was not ready to leave...  Tired and grumbly were gone and in their place was joy...  unexplainable...  overflowing joy!  There is something about serving those whom Jesus came to save that brings you into the presence of Jesus Himself...  I've experienced it in Africa, on a street corner in our city and tonight in rehab facility...  Jesus can always be found among those whom our society would consider "the least of these..."  And more and more I'm realizing, I just like being where Jesus is!

Africa has taught me that consistency is SO  essential...  It's not enough to go just once...  It's important to keep going back...  And so I will...  I may not have great words of wisdom to offer them...  I will most likely never change or fix anything...  But I can give them a smile...  And a word of encouragement...  And most importantly I can show them that no matter what the world may say, God sees them as His dearly Beloved children whom He takes great delight in...

Perhaps my biggest lesson of the evening...  God blesses obedience!

1 comment:

Lori said...

Oh Sharla, that was SO inspiring! It really puts into focus what the Gospel is all about and who we need to bring it to. I cringe as I see the church being caught up in selfishness and twisted theology. Instead, if we would all reach out and love like Jesus intended, limitless good to others and glory to God would come from it.

Thanks, friend.

Have a wonderfully blessed CHRISTmas!