Published May 19, 2015

Shelia Shares....
"Encouragement Given & Received"

With the warmer weather, once again Paul and I can take our walks through the downtown streets. It feels good to be walking outside instead of in the mall. It is certainly more interesting.

On a walk last week, we met a lady pushing a stroller containing two small but lively children. She stopped us by saying, "I don't usually do this, but you look like good people."

We stopped and began to chat. She was in a tough situation. She was being kicked out of a Christian homeless shelter because she missed their required chapel service. (I had to empathize with her since she was holding down a full time job, caring for two small children and the services were at an hour when she was working. I did silently wonder where the Christian "grace" was at that shelter rather than the "legalism.")

She had an appointment scheduled for the next day with another organization that helps the homeless. She had missed the free meal that evening since she got off work too late and couldn't get there before they closed. I could see she was feeling defeated and overwhelmed.

One of her friends came by and as they chatted, I looked at Paul. I thought about the bill that would be coming to us for $3,300 to pay for window frames and gutters at the house, replacing ours that were rotted and full of holes. Then, I quietly asked Paul if he had any money. I knew he didn't carry much with him, but he pulled out $15.00, leaving just two dollars in his wallet.

Now, I am generally the one that hesitates to give money because often people take advantage. But, this time, I really felt we were to give something. It wouldn't be a lot, but it could help give encouragement.

When I handed over the money, she was appreciative and gave us both hugs. Paul quietly whispered to me, "pray with her." So, I asked if I could pray for her. She agreed right away.

This lady and her friend joined us in a circle, right there on the street corner, and with arms around each other, I prayed. I asked for God to meet her needs. I asked that she would be able to meet the right people who could offer assistance and wise guidance. I asked for Him to give her hope and encouragement. And, I thanked God for loving us more than we can love ourselves and more than we can even imagine.

It wasn't a long prayer, but it was necessary and it finished in Jesus' name. I didn't want her to remember us as good people, I wanted her to remember God as a good God.

We left her and continued on our four-mile walk. The encounter was an encouragement to us.

Several blocks farther on I noticed a cardboard box sitting beside the sidewalk. It was a box of CD cases and trays. The sign read, "Free. They are empty." Someone apparently had removed all of their CDs to store otherwise and only the cases were left. I looked at Paul and asked if we should take them. We use just that kind of cases to store CDs in our library. He asked if I was willing to carry them and I agreed.

We picked up the box and I made it to the corner. It was heavy. From there, Paul took the box and carried it for a while. When we came into the parking lot of a convenience store, he pointed out the cardboard dumpster. I held the lid while he reached in for a small cardboard box just the right size for 28 of the CD cases. We took turns carrying the smaller, lighter box and the heavier, bulkier box. Another two miles and we were back at the car.

As we later thought about it, we realized that the 72 CDs with trays were valued at about $30.00. That was double the amount we had given the lady earlier that evening. God had returned our money in kind — even better.

For me, it wasn't so much the money as it was the assurance that God had seen our actions and wanted us to know that He knew our circumstances. He was the one that placed that box in our path at just the right time. He would take care of our needs, as well as the needs of this young lady we had met.

Isn't God good!  He owns it all and He supplies in His time and in His way.

In whatever circumstances you find yourself, trust God. Tell Him your needs and then leave the problem with Him. Understand that He will provide and sometimes He will use others to do that for Him. Next time, as you are able, be the "hands" that give — and see God's work of encouragement through you.


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