Lilies, Sparrows, and a Turkey
Here we go! The holiday madness is upon us. In this season of pies, presents, parties, and peppermint coffee it is easy to keep moving at neck-break speed. Like many of you, my life had begun to take off like a plastic sack in these northern winds, but the Lord provided an interruption that I must share.
Quick disclaimer: In Matt. 6: 1-4 the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us not to help the needy to gain the praise of man, but to do it in secret before the eyes of God. The story I am going to tell you has nothing to do with me. My involvement was that of a pawn in the presence of a King. The God of the universe did everything!
It was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and it was time to go home! “Only one day to go,” was the thought in my head as I was locking up the office. As I reached the door to leave, a man I did not recognize was standing there ready to push the doorbell. He was holding a frozen turkey. I opened the door and asked him, “How can I help you?”
He told me he was given the turkey at work and did not need/want it. He asked if we could use it and I told him at the very least we probably could use it with our Mighty Oaks ministry. I explained to him that the M.O. ministry feeds the homeless every Saturday. He was good with my response and handed the bird over and left. As I walked back into the church I noticed this turkey was a fancy Colorado turkey. You know the kind that live freely on a farm with rainbows and kittens and no gluten products were used in the feeding of this pampered feathered friend. I place it in the freezer and I was gone.
My next day was quiet. I spent Wednesday all by myself in the office and manned my post like the best of them. Time flew by and once again my realty crept in. My Holiday weekend was about to start. With my thoughts already leaning toward turkey and the Dallas Cowboys, the phone rang…
I answered the phone, “Trinity Baptist Church. This is Kyle speaking. How can I help You?”
The lady on the phone then began to give me her spiel of how she called all the churches around and that Trinity was the only one that answered. She continued with her story of how life had been difficult to her and her husband. She finally got to her point of asking for some food.
I told her I had some food and if she could come down soon, I’d stay and help her out before I left. Then she started in again stating they couldn’t drive but they lived close to the church. Without missing a beat, she volunteered me to bring it to her like I was a GrubHub driver or something. A little put off I complied only because I was ready to go and I knew it was close. She said okay and hung up.
I grabbed a box and put the Colorado turkey in it. As I was gathering my stuff, I remembered a large box of instant potatoes, a turkey pan, foil, butter, some cans of soup, and some cans of corn…all items left over from the Youth’s Thankful Dinner a week prior.
“Wow!” I thought. “God, did you plan this?” I said jokingly in my head as I loaded my car. At this point I was excited to deliver this God planned feast and go home. I honestly, was happy and excited that we could help and had my Christian music playing as I drove away. Feeling good about myself I had no idea what the Lord was about to show me.
I pulled up to their building and they were outside on a balcony yelling at me to bring it up. At this point I could not see my needy friends but I could hear them. My happy attitude quickly shifted. I was about to think, “at least you could come down and help” but being the “good pastor” I am, I changed my thoughts to a half-hearted kind of sarcastic complaint.
“Well, I guess I’m carrying all this upstairs. Oh well God, it is for your glory!’
“Awe, much more acceptable!” I critiqued myself.
I reached the top of the narrow stairs and walked into their tiny apartment and my self-righteousness shattered into glass dust. You know, like when you drop a light bulb.
You see, I have often wrestled with helping people before, because there are times I know I’ve been taken. There are times I tell God, “I don’t want to help because they are just going to take the money and do something else with it.” God responds, “Kyle, what that guy/girl does is not of your concern. I’m asking you to give. Will you be obedient?” This simple conversation has helped me so many times as God grows me up. As a pastor, I know He just wants me to stay in my lane and do what I’m supposed to do. This time was different.
As you already know, as I entered their apartment, my mind was emotionless all the way through the process of bringing them food. Everything changed as I walked into a home of genuine need.
Both individuals were nearly skin and bone. Obviously sick. Obviously couldn’t have helped carry the food. Obviously not pulling any punches. No furniture in the place. I was broken and speechless and totally caught off guard. At this point I may have stopped breathing. I don’t remember. It didn’t matter.
Both individuals were full of appreciation for my help. As I began to try and speak to them, I was now intently listening to their stories and fully engaged into these real -life people. Too many times I have helped people with what I thought were the right motives. Sometimes the needy become a distant people. Not Today.
I began to pull the food from the box and they were so thankful. When I pulled the turkey out they both broke and tears began to flow.
Once they were able to compose themselves they told me they prayed for a Turkey the day before. I prayed over them and we thanked God for his provision and for hearing their prayers and only God gets all the glory. I prayed that this story would be a testimony in their lives of the goodness of God and that their story would bring people to God.
As I left there was no high-fives, no boost in my moral. I broke down and tears filled my eyes. My realty of Thanksgiving and the Holidays was very much different than theirs. We help people all over the world and Aurora all the time and there are people in the shadows of our building that need help and need Jesus.
My faith was strengthened in my somber drive home. It didn’t matter to God how these people ended up in their situation. He still heard their prayer and provided. He still loved them. My effort in this whole story was bare minimum.
His Will be done.
As we move into the Christmas season, remember God used a great Star to point people to Jesus. Some people saw it and experienced Christ like none of us ever will. Many people were too busy to see the Stars align and they missed Jesus.
I hope you see that God moved metaphoric stars in my life to point these people to Jesus and now God wants me to share this story to point people to Jesus.
God covered every detail in my story to get these people their turkey and it was happening right in front of me the whole time. I didn’t truly realize the magnitude until I walked into their home. They had no idea that God was moving.
If you read on in Matt. 6 you will come to a section where the Lord teaches us not to worry, but to seek God (Matt. 6:25-34). Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a God in heaven that hears your prayers even if it’s for a turkey.
Jesus Christ himself says that if you, “first seek His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and all these things (the worries we have in this world) will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33).
This Holiday season, slow down, open your eyes, and seek God. Lay your requests down before the Lord because he cares for you. The Lord is moving all the time. Hold onto Jesus. You are not forgotten. Help is coming. The details are coming together. He will provide when the time is right.