The title of this blog says it all. For those of you who may not know the song these lyrics above are from, you can listen here. As I considered the events of the weekend and visit I had last month with a friend, little sister and once a upon a time, mentee, I was reminded of how much the Lord really loves His children.
I recently shared how weary and grieved I have been with the state of the body of Christ . I didn’t realize how much it was impacting me. Even in the midst of my heart aching over the things I was hearing and seeing, in addition to other things I have been wrestling with personally, God saw fit to use a disabled veteran named Sergeant Stephen and an unassuming man having beignets in San Antonio to remind me that He is still alive, that His children are everywhere and we are not without hope.
And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!Romans 5: 4-5, Passion translation
True to her bubbly and fun personality, my friend and I decided to venture off on a day trip to San Antonio, TX the day after she arrived. With a lack of sleep due to staying up late and chatting, our first order of business was to stop by Starbucks before getting on the road and tackling the 3 hour drive from Houston. We entered the store and joined the line. My friend saw a man in a wheelchair and asked him if he was in line to which he said, “No, they got me already.”
We proceeded to move in front of him and contemplated what to order. In the meantime, a Starbucks employee came from behind the counter to give the gentleman in the wheelchair his coffee. We stepped up to the register and then heard behind us, “Whatever you want to get, order it and I will pay for it.” We looked back to see who he was talking to and the gentleman in the wheelchair repeated what he said to us and the same employee now behind the register.
“Oh no, that’s ok sir, but thank you,” was my response. He insisted that he wanted to pay for both of our drinks and told us again to order what we wanted. We replied, “Thank you so much,” to which he said, “Don’t thank me, thank Him. I am just following orders” and pointed upwards to the sky.
In that moment, God bless you didn’t seem enough to thank him for his kindness, but it automatically came out of my mouth along with, “Amen!”
What happened next just brought so much more joy to my heart. Both my friend and myself introduced ourselves to the gentleman, Sergeant Stephen, while we waited for our drinks and made some small talk. Then, he asked me to reach into a bag he had and take out a paper. I pulled out a 1 page typed sheet of paper titled, “My Testimony” in red. Apparently, he had a stack of these papers, that I could only assume he gave out to many people as he went about his day.
Looking at Sgt. Stephan’s situation, one could assume that because of his condition–being confined to a wheelchair–he was helpless , unhappy and had many hardships. Yet, this was not the case. There was so much joy, peace and hope that emanated through him and filled the atmosphere. In that brief exchange with him, he helped me to see not only beyond his current physical condition, but also how much purpose he had and how confident he was in it. It made me consider how was I actively sharing the Gospel with others and highlighting all that God had done and is still doing in my life. As I read through his testimony once we got in the car, I just simply could not stop thanking God for allowing Sgt. Stephan and I’s paths to cross that day.
Imagine my surprise when the Lord decided to do it again!
We finally arrived in San Antonio and were grabbing brunch at a cute local New Orleans style restaurant. As we chatted with each other about our fun day ahead and life in general, we caught the attention of a gentleman sitting next to us. He was laughing at us because we were going back and forth with each other about what to order and had taken so much time trying to decide. It appeared we were
a bit very indecisive. I mean, when you have a blue crab omelette, praline bacon, shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, among other mouth watering items to choose from, it can get a little challenging!
We quickly struck up a conversation with him and learned that he and his wife had just dropped off one of their sons in Houston, for his first semester of college. Our food came eventually, and in the middle of our meal, our new friend finished his food and bid us farewell. Then he quietly said, “Your meal is taken care of.” I just sat there for a second with my mouth open.
We managed to say thank you a million times and just like that, he smiled and was on his way.
I was simply in awe the entire day, as I kept saying to my friend, “Wow, wow, wow” and “Thank you, Lord.” While the gifts were nice, it was the experience and how palpable God’s heart was for us that day–two young women from up north who loved Jesus , looked very different and grew up in different cultures doing life together. Literally, everywhere we turned, we were reminded of God’s blessings all around us and this was just what I needed to keep moving forward, even while I am waiting.
Scripture references: The Holy Bible (NLT)
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Photo credit: canva.com, Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsp
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