The photos above are from a series on the homeless by Manchester based photographer Lee Jeffries.
There are some moments in life that hit you so hard it can’t be anything else but the hand of God. These moments don’t come around often, but when they do they shake you to your core and make you question everything you believe in–and such an instance happened to me a few days ago.
You usually don’t expect God to dive bomb your vacation, I mean it’s your time to relax and forget about the worlds problems, right? Well I’m learning every day that God will show you what He wants you to see, when He wants you to see it, whether or not that fits into your plans is another story.
Well, surprise, God wrecked my vacation–in the best way possible. Let me set up the scene.
It was the last day of our vacation and time to head home. After a week of nonstop activity I was ready for some peace and quiet. I think we all were. After some early morning packing, we loaded up the truck and off we went.
However, a few hours into our trip things took an unexpected turn. We had unknowingly landed ourselves in a massive blizzard, with heavy snowfall and 60 mph winds. Mind you we had a fourteen hour drive home so this small “pop up” delay wasn’t exactly welcomed. And what started out as a fourteen hour drive ended up being a whooping seventeen hours and one of the longest days of my life.
Luckily, we made it through the snow storm unscathed and started our trek through the barren wasteland…oh, I mean Oklahoma. At this point the trip had become a lot longer than anticipated and we were all starting to feel it. It was around lunch time when we stopped at a little convenience shop in the middle of nowhere, there was nothing else for miles, but the sign said hot pizza inside and I wasn’t about to argue with that. We were ready for some food that wasn’t trail mix or popcorn.
That’s when I saw him.
Huddled outside of this cold little truck stop was a man in tattered clothes. He looked like he hadn’t had a good meal or hot shower in weeks. His only belongings were an old backpack and a worn blanket. I didn’t see a homeless man to be feared, but a broken man to be healed.
Now I don’t know the extent of God’s presence in your life, but the only way I can describe how I felt in that moment was the hand of God. He tore through me and left me in a million little pieces. I saw that man through His eyes and it broke my heart. And when I say broke my heart, I mean BROKE my heart, I have tears in my eyes writing this now. I have never felt God like I felt Him then.
Looking at that man all I wanted to do was hold his hand and ask him his name, his story. I wanted to know this man, I wanted to look at him and tell him that someone cares about him. I wanted to do so much, but I didn’t do anything. I walked past him and I cannot explain the pain I feel for that lack of action. My heart is still heavy for this man.
A few days ago I came across the verse Proverbs 3:27 and it has become a mantra for my life. It says, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” I withheld goodness from a man who desperately deserved it and I am ashamed for that, but I don’t count the experience as a loss. God opened my heart in a way I didn’t know it could and He showed me the world through His eyes. He enforced a passion in my heart for helping those less fortunate than I. He gave me a new purpose for my life and for that I will rejoice.
Even though I did not act in that moment, I have prayed for that man five, ten, twenty times each day asking God to watch over him, to provide for him, and to somehow tell him that someone cares about him, even if I never see him again.
God works in the most mysterious of ways and He can seem to change your life in an instant. I went on vacation for me, to have a good time, and God changed my life. I wish I would have done something for that man, but the gift God has shown me I will not waste. I will not make the same mistake twice. Life is too short to be anything less than the very best you can be.
God willing, I hope I can impact a million lives with the gift He has given me, through kindness, mercy, and generosity. We ask God to change the world seldom realizing WE are the ones He uses to do so. I see that now, for all it’s worth.
I encourage you, if you feel God pulling you to do something, don’t fight it like I did. Give in to Him and let it wash over you. You can change the world.