For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17)
I found God in an unexpected place recently. Intellectually I knew you could find Jesus anywhere, but I had never taken the time to find Him in this place. A place I had driven by hundreds of times over the years. And I never expected to find Him in as many ways as I did.
As I walked the streets of the housing authority community with a friend, arms laden with bags of food, I asked myself once again what I was doing. “I’m horrible when it comes to small talk with strangers.” My fear of going door to door, especially the doors of strangers, trying to take hold. Still I push myself. I believe in what Live Love Out Loud is doing and on this day I can help in a small way.
A conversation with a friend the day before begins to surface. A conversation about spiritual gifts and the different schools of thought. “Some believe God gives you a certain gift when you need it.”
So taking a deep breath, I ask God to give me words to speak. A prayer usually prayed asking for words to write.
We deliver the food to the first gentleman. Elderly and disabled we ask if we can help him with anything. “No,” he says. “As long as I’m able to do things for myself I want to do them.” We chat for a bit. My eyes opening slowly to the need around me. And I find myself in conversation without the awkwardness my voice usually feels among strangers. I find God here.
We move on to the next gentleman. His body language suggesting he doesn’t want to talk so we give the food and move on and I understand.
The next gentleman so appreciative and happy to have someone to talk with, to tell about his life. Telling us with pride about his nephew who has found success as a professional athlete yet sharing his frustrations about the nephew forgetting where he came from. Wishing us a merry Christmas as we make our way to our next stop. I find God here also.
Eating her bowl of cereal she welcomes us in her small home. A home smaller than my two car garage. She offers us candy. Chocolate candy she keeps for her great nephews and nieces she says. We ask how long she has lived here and she shares bits of her story. Growing up in this mill town, graduating and joining the army. She talks about her time stationed at the Pentagon, how she reads the paper and watches the news and how important she feels it is to know what is going on in the world. She tells us of surviving breast cancer. Ten years now I believe she said. She radiates joy. Laughing about her weekly Saturday afternoon trips to Walmart with her sister.
And I find God here.
We’re so often blinded by the culture of our the western world. Those of us who have not traveled to third world countries or developing countries may only see poverty through news and commercials. Too often the fatigue sets in.
While I’ve known this in my head I’m finally realizing in my heart that poverty doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of material things. I’m just as broken as those my friend and I delivered food to. Maybe in some ways even more so.
I went that morning expecting to deliver food to those in need. I never expected to find God there waiting to speak through two elderly gentleman and one joyful young at heart lady.
Perhaps this is what advent really is. Not just setting our hearts in reflection during this time of year when we celebrate Christ’s birth, but preparing our spirits to expect Him in the places the world does not throughout the year. After all no one expected to find the Messiah in a manger.
Where have you found God in an unexpected place recently?