God decided to use me at just the right time to teach me some very valuable lessons and to test my growth in Faith. I was deep into what I was calling God’s Boot Camp a few years ago when I got called up to the Big Leagues. I never thought God would ask me to do anything special. I just wanted to be a better Christian. So, when I got the call it hit me out of the blue. I reacted a bit like the Bible’s Samuel. It took little Samuel three times hearing God’s voice before his mentor said, “Dude, that’s not me calling you, it’s God. And by the way, when you hear him again, pay attention.” That might be a paraphrasing of the story, but you get the picture.
Over my 55 years, I’ve dabbled in helping the homeless but I would by no means call myself a “homeless advocate.” I’ve collected food, blankets, and clothing for various drives. My family has even served meals at churches in the downtown area. I didn’t see it as part of God’s plan for me. It was simply something you do as a “good person.” The morning of February 18, 2017, changed not just my outlook on what God wants from me but also my entire view of grace. The morning I heard the Holy Spirit was like any other. I slept snugly in my bed, squeezing in as much sleep as possible before getting up for work. That morning’s dream, I realized, was no ordinary dream. It had a tangible feeling to it, yet seemed surreal. I imagine it was how Scrooge felt when he was led around by the Ghosts of Christmas. But my guide was no ghost, it was Jesus.
I woke up to a man standing beside me. I glanced to my left and saw the holiest of holy men. A glimpse was all I dared take for fear that if I stared too long, I would never look away. I could feel his strong and worn hand on mine. Each fold of his clothing draped softly and gently, begging me to clutch his sleeve. His flowing waves of hair blew in an unseen breeze. But most of all, his eyes warmly spoke to me, beckoning me to listen. He led me forward to a scene, brushing away mist. There I was, with friends, preparing a meal of soup, crackers, cookies and water. Laughter permeated the air. My house was a buzz of activity. Children playing and adults, meeting for the first time, sharing stories. Then He showed me and others making sandwiches and placing them in bags with fruit and water. He said simply, “Do this” as he spread His arms across the scene. Now let’s stop here for a second. I’m not pulling your leg here. Every single detail was being shown to me by “the Man.” Have you ever watched a spy movie where the home office gives the spy some lengthy instructions including serial numbers, addresses, names and phone numbers, and you think, “I can’t even remember my kids’ names. Somehow Tom Cruise manages to remember every detail while also doing parcour throughout Paris?” Well, it was like that. Jesus was asking me to remember every detail, without notes. Okay, back to the vision. He then led me to a parking lot in downtown San Diego by our ballpark that I hadn’t actually been to in about two years. He said, “Bring them here.” He turned to me and said, “Make 100 of these.” I kid. You. Not. When I woke up, I had every detail emblazoned in my mind. He was a man of few words, but it was mighty powerful.
I want to be a “doing Christian.” I could have had this vision and told a few people about it. Then blown it off as just another weird dream. However, like a trained Navy Seal called up to action, God’s Boot Camp training kicked into high gear. This was like the final exam to see if I had been paying attention. I spent that day ruminating over this vision. It wasn’t a dream. I’ve had plenty of those dreams where you wake up still mad at your husband for doing something awful in your dream! This was more like marching orders. Funny enough, a few days before, my Power Thoughts devotional was “Passing the Test” and the Bible verse was 1 Peter 4:12,
The next day I revealed this vision to my husband. Whether or not he was going to (again) think I was a total lunatic, I had no idea. His response? “Sounds like a good plan.” I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but I love him. He thinks I’m pretty wacky, but he’s also seen a lot of spiritual growth in me over the years. What he didn’t know is this plan wasn’t going to be just for the next week or next month. In fact, this project God had for me was to last for 11 months. When things weren’t going well, I prayed, “Hey, you wanted to do this, so show me the solution!”
The next day an angel spoke to me. Wait, let me clarify so you don’t think I was dropping acid or something this whole time. This angel was a friend in my Bible study group. She immediately asked if she could come help me shop for the first 200 bags of food. Until that moment, I had never known that she once prepared and served food to the homeless every month for many years. She missed those times and was eager to find a way to continue that work. Over the next 11 months, she was my steady partner. Between frying up 300 chicken legs outside in the pouring rain to handing out cheetah-print undies, she was all in. She was up for just about anything, ready with a smile and, when needed, an “oh well” when things didn’t quite go as planned.
On Monday, February 20, 2017, after a few miracles even at the grocery store, a team of moms and their kids arrived at my house. I didn’t know who would show up after I sent out a few text messages explaining what I was planning on doing that week. I put the kids in charge of decorating our paper bags. The moms created a production line of soup, crackers, fruit, and utensils. We made 105 bags that morning. Those that could joined us in the cars as we headed to that ballpark downtown. What we saw upon arriving was eye opening. As a I mentioned, by July, news of the homeless crisis was splashed across every headline in America. This was 6 months prior to that. We had no idea of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people living in a few square blocks in our downtown. It’s not that we didn’t go downtown. We didn’t go to certain areas of downtown. Street upon street were tent cities. Homeless filled the ballpark parking lot – which during night games was emptied out to allow for cars. As we gathered moms and their kids around my car, we grasped hands and prayed. We prayed that the food would be a blessing, we prayed for our safety, and we prayed thankfully for the opportunity to do His blessing. In less than one hour we had given out our 100 lunches. We saw young and old. Infirm and, yes, insane. Drug users and drunks. We talked to those in despair and those desiring a better life. We also were blessed. We were called “angels.” We saw smiles and received thank-yous. They told us “God bless you this week.” We saw crosses—so many crosses—around people’s necks. These people wanted to be sure WE received God’s blessings. We who have so much and they so little. But we all have God’s grace and forgiveness. This was just day 1. And after a truly amazing day of handing out food I had plenty to send up in praise. I laughed out loud when He stepped in and put people in just the right places.
I spent the next months, once a week, making a minimum of 100 and usually at least 200 bags of food. People I didn’t even know offered to drop off packaged food items. Teachers who were friends of friends had their students collect toiletries for me to distribute. God led the way every single step of the way. He told me what to buy, when to buy it and where. He told me where to deliver the food. But more importantly he told me to trust Him. I went to some scary places, by myself with God hovering over me.
Had I just woken up that morning and thought, “well, that was interesting” and never embarked on the deeds He called me to I would have missed out on so many God moments. People marveled at the work God was doing in me. Thousands of people were blessed and were truly thankful. I didn’t wear a t-shirt proclaiming myself as a Christian when we gave out food. But every single person assumed I was with a church, by my deeds. I would tell them, I’m just here because God asked me to come.
What is God asking you to do and maybe you’ve ignored Him? If you are stuck because of fear you need to do it anyway. Close your eyes, take the step, and Trust Him.