“Drawing Deeper” is a series I have been writing which candidly details the progression, triumphs, and (very hard) lessons I have been learning as I draw deeper into a more personal, more intimate relationship-based walk with God. It is meant to provide inspiration, encouragement, and accountability to both myself and to whoever finds these helpful. Below is the eleventh entry in the series. God bless you, and thank you for reading!
Tonight I had the wonderful privilege to experience S.O.S. (Standing On Stone), a ministry here in Malibu that reaches out to the homeless community. Here, volunteers from Pepperdine and all over come to help serve food and talk with those who have no roof above their head — it’s truly a beautiful thing. I heard about it from my professor, who is a friend of the one who organizes it, and she recommended that we check SOS out as a possible topic idea for a paper we have coming up. While my motivations were academic, I soon found myself immersed in so much more.
While serving tray after tray of Shepherd’s Pie to all the homeless and volunteers, I couldn’t help but notice the sincere gratitude coming from so many of them. I have never been one to do service projects, and I have done embarrassingly little to help those in need.. but after a few conversations with them, I have come to conclude that these are wonderful, wonderful people, with just as much value than any other person — one’s misfortunes can never take away the worth of one’s life.
After dinner, Dan, the coordinator, stood in front of the crowd and asked for some good news. One man, Freddy, stated that he is quitting alcohol today, and will go into rehab for a year. A few more stated that they are still going strong with their sobriety. One man was thankful that today’s weather was beautiful. The air in this place had no judgment or condemnation, only love, clapping, and encouragement.
Following the praise reports, a fellow Pepperdine student went to the front with a guitar and led the crowd into three songs of worship. The experience was amazing.. I looked and saw people who have gone through enormous hardship, singing “Blessed Be Your Name” and “Mighty to Save.” I was in awe… and so thankful that there is a refuge like this for people without homes to worship in a house of God. I couldn’t help but realize my own blessings, and I thanked God so much for his provisions.
There was a group Bible study too, where the facilitator referred to passages about children and having a childlike faith. There were people who talked about how empty they were before finding God, how hopeless they were until they turned to Him, and other stories of repentance and delivery. I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at how genuine and simple their faith was… even in the face of their circumstances. I look at their struggle and see the grace of God — these people know Him because He is providing for them every single day, keeping them alive and their spirits up somehow. They have a reason for thanking God staring at them in the face all the time, and they experience a dependency on Him every minute of their lives.
How many of us can say that we depend on God like that? With all the abundance that we are sitting on, when was the last time I thanked God for my car? For gas? For Jack-in-theBox whenever I want it? For a bed?
It was a huge wake-up call. We have a duty to care about the least of these people not because it’ll make us feel better, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because God loves them. They are His. And we can learn so much from them. But we need to be where they are. We need to dine with them at the same table. We have to love them because God loves them. We need to love our neighbor because God loves them, and if we love God to the degree we say we do, then actions like this need to happen.
Interestingly enough, afterwards I got a chance to speak with Freddie, the man who is going to rehab. He was pretty drunk, and he had a slightly warped view of the afterlife, but he, out-of-the-blue, told me that I was going to be a great singer in the church one day, and that I would lead a thousand people to Christ without even realizing it. “Just you wait,” he told me. Now, I’m pretty insecure about my voice, and I consider it the most deficient aspect of my musicality.. and God knows I feel ashamed about the way I sound. Freddie didn’t know that. But he said that I’d be a great singer. And it encouraged me. Sure, he was a little drunk, and it may be a false prophecy, but it certainly caught me by surprise. And I will definitely be bringing it before God to see whether it was truly from Him or not… But regardless, what a uniquely awesome way to end the night!
God, it was so great to be with your people, the least of these, the ones so many neglect. God, thank you for opening my eyes and my heart to see the worth and greatness in those who have encountered such harrowing misfortune.. may you continue to be with them and care for them, and use us to love them. Be with them to break their addictions, give them hope, and secure their future in you, God. I thank you so much for their lives and how you use the ones we least expect to deliver the greatest encouragement. Thank you so much Lord. I love you.
Previous entries in the series:Previous entries in the series:
10: Relationship Ramblings
9: Stay With Me
8: Asking God First, and Letting Him Finish
7: God Will Disrupt Your Schedule
6: Lord of the Little Things
5: Submitting the Imagination
4: No, I Don’t Want To
3: Dealing With Our Love Story
2: What Should I Read?
1: The Choice