(Several of you, have asked me to share how the Lord provided through five-dollar gift cards to a homeless ministry in Chicago. I pray the following recalling of the events brings God all the glory. I am not that bright nor do I have the means to provide in such abundance. I have become utterly convinced that He uses the ordinary and simple to show us how extraordinary His love for us is! In surrendering our lives to Him completely, we get to experience our generous God. We get to know His mighty love and provisions for us and those whom He places on our path. When we lift our empty hands on behalf of the needy, He not only provides, but also fills our desperate hearts with His love.)
My heart felt heavy as I walked through the cold woods on that particular March morning. Since October, and hearing about the devastation Sandy left in her wake, I had been trying hard to connect churches with victims who lost everything in the floods. Now, five months later, after thirteen boxes had made it from Wisconsin to Staten Island -all filled with prayers and gift cards- the task was becoming more and more difficult.
“God, what would you have me do next?” As I was drudging through the cold, and in that questioning moment, I remembered Marian.
I had first heard her speak on the internet radio station, in October, right around the time the Storm hit. Something in her voice had touched me deeply then. As she had spoken about her ministry to the homeless in Chicago, her faith was shining through. She had talked about the importance of not getting overwhelmed with the need around us, but rather focus on one person at a time. It had been as if the Holy Spirit took her words and had grated away my fear and sense of inadequacy. I had decided to speak with her, not knowing what would come of it. I had felt somehow that she would be an encouragement to my heart in this quest to help Sandy victims. While she had been speaking, I looked up her ministry and email, which eventually would lead to our first phone conversation. In talking with her, she had provided such an encouragement and had urged me to follow the voice of God, no matter where it would lead.
Now here in the woods, after a season of successfully connecting churches with Sandy victims, I was not sure what God would have me do next. I lifted my empty hands to Him.
“Fill them, Lord! Use them. Give me what I need to do your work! Show me!”
I knew that the thought of Marian and her ministry was not an accidental one. I sensed the Lord’s heart in the midst of my questions. Was He asking me to shift my focus to the homeless in Chicago? What about the east coast? I needed a confirmation.
When I returned home from my walk, I started my usual morning routine and turned on the radio. I could not believe my ears. Marian was speaking about her ministry again. Several months passed and the timing could not have been better. I listened intently. When the interviewer asked her what the listeners could do to help a homeless person, Marian mentioned several things. One thing, however struck me in my spirit, “A person can purchase a five-dollar gift card to McDonald’s and give it to a homeless person.”
There it was, the answer to my prayer. I knew God was going to provide the rest. For my birthday and Mother’s Day I asked for five-dollar McDonald’s gift cards. A couple of cleaning jobs turned into gift card payments and soon ladies from our Bible study jumped on board. My greeting cards started to sell at a local gift shop and some time later our church took an offering for McDonald’s gift cards.
In writing this, I hope to encourage you to listen carefully to your Maker’s voice. He made you for His glory, to trust Him, and to understand how much you need Him. Walking with Him in the works He has prepared for you, is most rewarding. By following Him into uncharted territory, by stepping out in faith, and walking closely by His side, we see His heart. Too often we only ask for that which we ourselves can provide. Why not ask for the impossible. Why not ask Him to show us. Why not ask to join Him in His work rather than asking Him to join us in ours.
If you like more information on Timothy’s Ministry, or listen to Marian’s interview on Moody Radio Chicago, click here
(I took the picture some time after Sandy hit the east coast. Interestingly, the clouds were “left-overs” from the storm. I am amazed how something so devastating can eventually produce something beautiful. I suppose God can do that!)