Renee and I planned to have lunch together yesterday to catch up on our lives and just generally enjoy ourselves.
However, God had far greater plans for us.
A young man named Jordan sat down to talk with Renee as she waited for me outside the restaurant. He shared a bit about how he'd just gotten out of jail, how he'd been misunderstood, and how he was trying to get his life together. When I
arrived, Renee stood up and told him that she'd pray for him, and we both started walking away. He stopped us, though, and asked if we had a couple dollars. We said no, but Renee offered to buy him something to eat. She told him to just come in with us and order what he'd like. We all went inside and ordered together, then waited together, then just ended up eating together.
Jordan shared as much as he wanted about his life, and Renee and I listened.
Jordan was certainly on drugs, but that didn't bother Renee and I that much...we both lived for years with family members who were trapped by drug addiction. And that's how we were able to tell him that there was real hope for him. Both our family members have been freed of their addictions by the explosive power of Jesus' love. When Jordan spoke about wanting to get his life together, we shared with him about how Jesus had put back the lives of our loved ones, and could absolutely do the same for him.
Jordan said multiple times that it was so nice to just sit and talk. I think he meant that it was nice to be heard.
He told us that so many people think terrible things about him, but they don't know him...the real him. We told him that God knows, and that He's not disappointed in him. He loves him.
The words of our study, Sent, kept coming back to me as I found myself tempted to focus on Jordan's basic needs, especially his need to get out of the drug trade. I kept thinking, "What he needs most is love."
He believes he's unacceptable, unimportant, and rather hopeless. As long as he believes these things, he'll never see a reason to do anything differently. He's taken on the identity of an outcast. But Renee took him inside a restaurant and showed him the same respect and dignity she showed me by sharing a meal in a public place.
For that hour, he was no outcast; he was one of us...he was a friend.
I don't know how much we really impacted Jordan that day, but I do know that God was there.
We prayed hard and loud for Jordan at the end of our lunch, and I know He heard us. It was such a privilege to have God open that door today and invite us to step in.
I'll admit that Renee said yes for the both of us, but boy, am I glad I walked in with her.
It truly is such a joy to serve this way...to affirm a person's worth, to speak life to their busted heart, to set aside the pointing finger of judgment and instead, extend the arms of love. And now, we trust God for the results.
Who knows who Jordan will meet tomorrow? Maybe it will be one of you, and he will hear again how loved he is, beyond measure, how much hope there is for an abundant life in Christ, how freedom is within his reach. And maybe the next day, he'll wonder if it's true. And maybe if we Christians keep treating him this way...as a valuable person who is loved by an infinitely good Father... one day, he'll dare to believe it.
How has God called you to move step outside your comfort zone and step into someone's need?