The Christmas season has always been a time of anticipation for me. As a child, it was waiting for the gifts. Then, as I gave my heart to Christ, it became the anticipation of watching and waiting for Him to “meet me” during this special season. He always has met me. But this year, he gifted me with a Divine Appointment that has opened my eyes wider and enabled my reach to go further.
In my last blog post here, I wrote of the homeless man my husband and I hoped to invite to our family Thanksgiving meal. God didn’t grant that opportunity. The man seemed to have disappeared from all his usual places those few days before the holiday. So, we decided to do something else instead. God gave us two opportunities to give that week, and then surprised me with a third. We delivered two Thanksgiving meals, each to a family that was known to us from a food ministry we do once a year at our church. My oldest daughter accompanied my husband for the first delivery. Then came my turn, and quite frankly, I’m already crying as I write these words. It was dark out, the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. We had no address or phone number to go by, and my husband had only been to this house in daylight, so we kind of wove our way around, looking for what he remembered of an earlier trip, 6 months before. Finally, he saw it. “That’s it!” he said, “Are you ready?” I was ready, but slightly scared. We were simply driving up to a stranger’s house, in the dark, in a rough part of town, and knocking on the door with a meal to give.
What happened next still leaves me with a tear-stained face. “Kurt,” I’ll call him, answered the door, which had plywood over the bottom half to keep little ones from running out. I watched from the car until my husband gave me the sign to come too. I wasn’t prepared for the conditions. Three beautiful little boys were inside, one asleep on the couch. The smell of fried meat filled the air. A few roaches ran up the walls. But inside this tiny home, I felt Jesus standing there with me. I was so filled with joy as I talked to the little boys, who kept saying, “Watch this!” and “You can come into our house!” Kurt was so grateful for the food, he kept expressing thanks over and over again. “I don’t know how you do it, taking care of all these little ones by yourself,” my husband said. Then Kurt spoke these words, “Well, I’ve got 6 beautiful lives to take care of.” He meant that his other three children, who lived with his estranged wife across the street, were also his responsibility. We stayed a few more moments, praying for and talking with Kurt and his sweet boys, then we said our good-byes. The minute I shut the car door, the tears started flowing. “People don’t know,” I said. “Our people at church don’t know there are families living like this so close to where we meet for church.”
Five days later, I got my second “Divine Appointment.” My daughter and I were leaving a store, walking to our car. “Hey lady!” a voice called out. “Hey lady, can you help me?” a woman’s voice asked. I stopped and asked her what she needed. She explained a story that still doesn’t make sense to me, but I knew that God was at work, putting me in her path right then to be the one to help her.
She got into my car, though all the time, I was calling out to God for safety and wisdom. She told me she needed $12 to get some gas for friends, one of whom was almost nine months pregnant. I drove around a bit, praying and asking God for words to speak to my captive audience. Vanessa kept telling me how much she appreciated my help and what a nice lady I was. Finally, after driving a few minutes and making a stop to get some cash, the words came to me, “Vanessa, (not her real name) you know, I’m not doing this because I’m a nice person.” She looked stunned in my rear-view mirror. “You’re not a nice person?” she asked. “Not really, none of us can be truly good without God.” I said. “Anything I’m doing for you is because I love God and I believe He wants me to help you. And today, exactly 4 weeks before Christmas, He wants you to know that He loves you. He is reaching down and telling you that He cares, He sees, and He knows.” Vanessa began to cry in my back seat. She said she didn’t know why she was crying, but I did. God was pricking her heart. I began to share the gospel with her, telling her that Jesus didn’t just come to be a baby in a manger, but that he had come to die for her sins and mine on a terrible cross…and He had done just that. Then I told her I wanted to pray right then for her and her two friends. I lifted them up to the Lord by name, praying specific things for each lady, including the one who was about to have a baby. I handed Vanessa the money and dropped her off at the spot she needed. I told her, “Merry Christmas, and remember this day–remember that God reached down and let you know that He loves you.”
My daughter and I drove away and back to our home. I knew very well that I may have just given Vanessa money, not for gas, but for drugs or alcohol. I entrusted it all to God and asked Him to make it right. The point was…Vanessa had heard the gospel in my back seat. God had given me such a beautiful gift in being able to share the gospel with a stranger, just 4 weeks before Christmas. Now I can be praying for Vanessa , asking God to root in her the few seeds that were planted that day in my car.
When we pray to the Lord, asking for opportunities, we should be ready for a quick answer. I know in a matter of 5 days, my world was rocked by the people God put in my path. He has filled me with anticipation for the days ahead, and all He may do as I seek His kingdom first. Such a special time, such a special reminder that “God is With Us” –Emmanuel has come.