Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Homelessness, Miracles at Target, & Needing Everything

Two Sundays ago, the kids and I hit Target for groceries on the way home from church. These days, Target trips go like this for us:

The kids run to the toy section together, with the oldest in charge (we all pretend that will go well). I fill my cart to overflowing capacity with every food item that exists in the western world. Then I walk up and down every aisle to see all the shiny, pretty Target things. Finally, I gather my children and refuse to buy four $300 Lego sets and whatever new trading cards they are now collecting ("collecting" means talking about said cards like they are precious metals mined from magical caves in Rainbowland, but then actually throwing those cards all over the place like garbage and never caring if they get ruined or thrown away). 
When I roll up to the check-out with my cart, I see it in that Target employee's eyes every time, "THIS IS NOT ACTUALLY A GROCERY STORE, LADY."  
But Target has cute fall scarves and a rocking toy section, so we keep coming back. 
Once our food is all scanned and bagged, the cart is no longer big enough to hold the stuff I strategically stacked with my Tetris-champion skillz. I am offered a second cart. Then the total comes up on the screen, and Boy 1 shouts the number out loud because he can't believe we have to pay THAT MUCH MONEY
Every single time I shop, as I swipe my debit card I thank God for the money to live so luxuriously: six kinds of cereal, three gallons of milk, all the fruit we want, expensive meat, bread for days, chocolate everything. It feels like a miracle to have so much.

That particular Sunday, when we drove out of the parking lot, we saw a mom and two littles holding a sign that said, "We have nothing. Please help."

And we got to pass a small portion of our miracle on to her.

The kids and I talked about the challenges that mother faced as we drove home. And one of my kids said something that surprised me, "I think it must be easier to love God if you are poor."

I asked him why he thought that.

"Because you need Him so much more. For, like, EVERYTHING."

My son's words keep rolling around in my soul. We have a fairly large homeless community at our church. On Sundays, I routinely chat with some of them, and they really do need God for, like, EVERYTHING. And they need us to make space for them to be seen, loved, and safe.

But I don't think it's easier for them to love God. I just think it's easier for them to admit that loving God is not an easy thing to do. They don't pretend to have it all together. They don't hide their weaknesses and needs, because they can't.

By contrast, people who can get almost everything with a swipe of a debit card easily forget the great provision of God. We forget we need Him for, like, EVERYTHING. Loving God can become one item on the checklist of our very full lives.

But really loving God is hard. Loving God requires needing Jesus so much we are willing to follow Him into uncomfortable places, where our weaknesses become His powerful displays of grace. Jesus always asked ridiculous things of the people who wanted to follow Him: sell all their possessions, forgive everything and everyone, stay awake and pray, believe the impossible could happen, love God more than their culture. Jesus saw the great need of their hearts, and asked them to do those things so they could see their weaknesses and then find God's strength and power.

We find our weaknesses and God calls them gifts. 2 Corinthians 12 says to brag about our weaknesses, because in them His power is made perfect.

There is no great cure for our need here in this life. There is only a God of Great Love who is looking for us to hold up a sign that says, "We have nothing. Please help."

That's when the real miracles begin.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 
When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matthew 19:23-26 

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