There’s this homeless guy who hangs out near Weis market near my work. I’ve seen him a bunch of times. Most of the time, he has this beautiful, dirty labrador with him. The first time I saw him with the dog, I thought, I really wish I had cash, or at least dog food, to give this man and this poor dog.
The second time I saw this man with his dog, I felt a tug at my heart strings that said, you should buy that man some lunch, and that dog some food. But then that little voice of denial, that negative pull we all experience, rationalized it away. “You live paycheck to paycheck,” “Surely, someone else will do it,” “He probably just wants money for booze,” “what if he DOESNT feed the dog?”. So I ignored the heart strings.
The THIRD time I saw the man and the dog, I was dropping off a prescription. Those Holy Spirit Heart Strings tugged again. “Buy the dog food!” “Get this man some groceries”.
So in classic broken human fashion, I bargained with God. I told God, okay, IF he’s still there when I pick up my prescription, I will buy him some dog food and a grocery card.
Guess who I saw when I came back? NO ONE. I felt so sad. Unexpectedly sad.
The Holy Spirit can be quite an earworm. As soon as I COULDN’T find this man and this dog, I said, I have to buy them food!
Sitting in my car, frozen, I said a prayer again. This time, it went something like this. “Dear Jesus- Okay, I know that my giving spirit extends from your love. Please let me love this person, and get up the courage to trust in you to provide the money to help.”
I walk into the grocery store and theres a row of gift cards. I felt this immense rush of comfort, as I had the thought of buying a $20 grocery card. But then I thought of the dog, and I wandered over to the pet food. Couple of cans of dog food, $5.
I almost laughed out loud. The past two pay periods, I had overdrawn my account by just about $25– a result of needing to buy gas to get to and from work… and now, I’m feeling called to spend $25 on someone else.
I recognize that it was a prayer, but without much thanksgiving or praise, I said to myself, OKAY God, I don’t know where I can get $50 in the next week to cover both this gift, and my own needs, but I’m gonna go with it.– not my most eloquent moment in conversation with Jesus.
So I drive off with a couple of cans of dog food, and a gift card (and oh yea, my prescription), and who pops up around the corner as I’m turning out of the grocery store– homeless guy!
I gave him the card and dog food, and he said, God bless you!
I promptly forgot about the experience until later that night.
It was then that I said, OH , I have to get my brakes fixed!
And with that, I sent out a 2nd email asking for prayer and perhaps recommendations on a good CHEAP mechanic.
I felt lucky to get quite a few responses of “praying for you,” and “I may know so-and-so”.
And I got a random question from Chris C., wanting to know if he gave me a donation, was a check okay. Without much thought other than, “Aw, how sweet”, I went to bed thankful for my Christ Life community and friends who cared enough to pray and take a look at my car later that week.
God giggles at our ignorance and doubt, sometimes I think.
Fast forward to the weekend; I took my car over to Andy and Mo’s, and we determined that thankfully, I only need brake pads (but I was cutting it close).
Andy: “We could go pick up the parts and get this done today”
Me: “Uh, well, I don’t get paid til next Friday, I’d have wait til then”
Andy: “Well actually, that’s sort of taken care of”
By sort of, Andy actually meant completely taken care of, and then some. Unbeknownst to me, Chris felt called to ask for donations on my behalf, raising an astounding $730 in two days.
God: “I got your back, Olivia”.
Me: “I can’t even, God.. Seriously, who ARE YOU”.
God: “I am Love. And You are Loved”.
Ladies and gents- thats my little lesson in trusting God, trusting in the call of the Holy Spirit, and PRAISING JESUS for His Blessings.
Its not until we are willing to serve those in most need, that we will be able to see all the blessings in our life. As I reflect on this experience, which I can honestly say has increased my faith and trust in so many ways, I can’t help but feel so blessed– not by the money, but by the people and community I am a part of who are willing to be servants of a God who loves us SO much!
A few more reflections that have come to light as I reflect and get some more perspective.
-$730- Also the amount of the last TWO checks I received from my regular job- I don’t have any leave left due to my surgery from december, so if I need to take time off, I don’t get paid. That happened a few times, so it reduced my paycheck to $730 and some change… I don’t think its an accident that God provides the same amount of money that I was trying to budget and divide up so that I could “affordably” donate to this homeless guy and his dog. As soon as I was willing to be sacrificial with my finances, in a way that was forced to give my trust to God, He provides.
-If you know anything about brake pads, you know they dont cost $730. So not only was God saying “I will provide”, He was saying “I will give you so much more!”. I now have a small amount I can save for emergencies. When your car has 233,000 miles on it, thats important.
-Be the blessing. A theme that has run in my life the last couple of years, is to be the blessing. When I get frustrated, or upset, or when I miss someone, I try and extend a kind word, or small gift to people in my life. I had forgotten that in recent times, and I think this blessing from God was also to remind me to be the blessing to others more often.
Finally, Thank YOU. Your prayers, time, and money totally blew me away. The Holy Spirit is alive and working in each one of our lives. God is HERE, with each of us, every day, and wants us to see Him, and be His Testament.
Sometimes all it takes is a little dog food to find Him :)