You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives...
If you ever go to get some coffee at a diner after 2am, please sit near the entrance door. It is better than TV or Film. You will get to see how amazing people really are: the drunks, the college student cramming for a test, the friends trying to sober up the one person from the party group who drank past their own limit. Loud, quiet, rude, nice and sweet -- you see all the personalities available. As entertaining as this might be, what got my mind spinning was not the people that walked in the front door, but those who are still in the parking lot, in the back parking lot.
When I parked in the back parking lot, five of the ten cars parked there clearly belonged to people that, for whatever reason, have ended up living in their cars. You can spot them because they make sure to park in the darkest spots, always in the back. They put up those foil looking sun protectors at night, and the car is filled with all their material possessions it can hold.
If you have never been in that situation, you know that it is far from ideal. You have to find a way to keep the items behind the passenger seat big and easy to move to the driver’s seat, so it is easier to lean the passenger seat back to “try” and sleep. Then you reach a point where you are just exhausted and your body shuts down and sleeps arrives does no matter where.
There are the “little things” people take for granted that become real problems: being able to go to the bathroom, getting a class of water, changing clothes, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, keeping food good without a fridge and so on. I really think that not being able to go to your bathroom is the biggest problem. You have to find a restaurant open late or a gas station, and remember that at camp sites it costs $1 dollar to shower. Sometimes a dollar is all you have, so I recommend surfing.
The question running around in my head is this: how in the world do you share the gospel of Jesus to these people, when they are a car malfunction away to being completely homeless? This bad situation can still get worse for them.
The campsite I’m staying at has a no entry policy after a certain time, and this complicates things like tonight. I sound engineered a show and was done at 2am. I knew I would have to kill time or take a nap, so I found a diner, got some coffee and I’ll make it to the camp site when it opens again.
The thing is, though, at no point in all this -- as my living situation has become camp like -- has the Lord stopped telling me He loves me. He is constantly telling my heart that I am not alone. I had enough money to pay for one night and did not have a tent. A raven disguised as my friend let me borrow his. What to eat? Clif bars and peanut butter sound healthier on paper, and, oh yes, on Friday my two good friends who are getting married took me out to dinner at a Brazilian food place that was just amazing. It was our “goodbye” -- he is my old roommate and the three of us have a sweet friendship.
God gave me my job tonight, so I can pay to camp the rest of this week. The kindest thing was done by my surfer friends. They all pitched in and got me a beautiful surfboard! Best part it has a turtle logo on top of it. There are many other ways God continues to tell me He loves me, not only in material things, but He is teaching me that He is my joy.
My heart needs to understand that if it is His will for me to be in this place, I need to trust Him. He has to be my joy -- not me finding joy in the situation. I can only find His joy in Him. At no point has my heart ever been worried about what happens next. I can honestly say I have never been happier with the Lord than I am these past couple of days as He is teaching me to learn to trust in Him, to find joy in Him and always put my brothers and sisters first. My list of Thank You's to God is so much bigger than my list of complaints; the list of reasons to not put my brothers first is non-existent.
I always saw people sharing the gospel from a place of advantage. It is from the comfort of their cars they wish the homeless well. From our air condition churches, we pray for our missionaries overseas. I have not personally seen the gospel shared from a position of disadvantage, where he who has nothing shares the gospel to someone who has everything. I would love to see that.
The reason we could share the gospel with the other people in this diner parking lot is not because we once lived in our car and we can share survival stories. The reason we can share the gospel is because all of us find ourselves in a position of disadvantage; our hearts look like those cars in the Denny’s Diner parking lot.
We found a dark place for us to park and keep our best works close to us. We are broke and helpless; we are sinful, we are broken. The gospel shared from a position of (financial) advantage done with a humble heart and out of love is the true gospel, not sharing because we have an emotional reaction to their situation -- an “I feel sorry for you, you poor soul.” That is an emotion, and we are sharing from a place of advantage. Maybe we will never see our wrong motives, but they are still wrong.
One could say that this is not real faith, because I was left with only one choice to make: camp out or sleep in my car. One could say that this is the only way to have true faith and be completely dependent on God, not out of ‘want’ but out of ‘need’. If this was true, Christians would place themselves in impossible situations only to strengthen their faith. We would see commercials for “Faith Island Weekends," where you get dropped off like survivor man with the tagline, "Either your faith survives or you will die!" There would by different levels, beginners, pros, and masters! With names like Island Abraham, Moses, Noah for the men, Hannah, Ruth for the women. You get the picture.
Faith cannot be me admitting defeat: “Ok, God. I lost everything, I guess now I have to believe in You.” Defeat is not faith, be it physical or spiritual. True faith is believing in God, not responding to the place where we find ourselves. If my response is out of need and not want, is that done with the right motives? True faith will not waver if He asks of us that, for His name to be glorified, we may have to go without. Even there He is still worthy, He is still our joy and even there He continues to love us. Any old Christian with bruised knees and an old Bible that is falling apart will tell you that you don’t need to travel to “faith island” or find yourself in a diner parking lot at 2am for your faith to be tested, nor to know you are truly loved.
“I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free! His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”
You are so loved my dear friend, and you are never alone.When do you find your faith the strongest: when you have everything or when you have nothing? Why is it that faith is so much easier to have when we have been defeated? How can we have the same strong faith as those who have nothing when we have everything we need?