I read a story in Readers Digest recently about a girl who recounted random acts of kindness that provided her family with much needed food. The girl’s parents were going through a divorce, and her mother was struggling to make ends meet with no income. There was no way to pay for groceries or bills. Just as the mother started to worry, the family began finding boxes of food outside their door every morning. There was food on their doorstep for months until the mother was able to find work.
Simply amazing, isn’t it? When I read stories like this or see them on the news I often wonder what led the person to offer that job, leave the large tip, or pay off the layaway. When prompted, the giver often responds that they just felt like they needed to help. Something inside them told them to do something for someone who was struggling. But is it just kindness or a “feeling” that leads people to help others all over the world? I wouldn’t fully understand until I had an experience of my own.
Several years ago, I had taken a day off work around Thanksgiving and I decided to reserve a movie for my little boys to watch. So I hopped online and reserved the show. When I checked my email for confirmation, I quickly realized I had reserved the movie at a location no where near our house! I found the location, and we made the trip to the other side of town. I grabbed the movie and got back in our minivan. As I was driving to our next stop – the grocery store, I glanced out the window to notice some apartments to the left. When I focused back on the road I immediately heard a strong voice inside telling me to gather up a box of groceries and deliver them to a specific apartment in that complex.
This wasn’t a sweet whisper, it was loud and clear. I actually looked in my rear view mirror to see if the boys heard it too. But the boys were happily watching their cartoon and didn’t appear to hear anything.
I tried to brush it off but the prompting didn’t go away. My heart started racing and my palms began to sweat as the desire to act came over me. I was imagining a box filled with pantry staples like bread, peanut butter, and canned vegetables, and it even included a treat for small children. “This can’t be happening, God,” I prayed. “You don’t normally ask me to do things like this. What is going on?” Remaining true to my comfort zone, I dismissed the thought again.
Has anything like this ever happened to you?
We arrived at the grocery store and my little boys and I moved through the aisles gathering the items on my grocery list. Again, I felt the Lord nudging me for the box of food. At this point I realized it wasn’t my lunch talking to me. This call just wasn’t going to go away. So I started pulling together some of the items I saw in my mind. My oldest son noticed something was different and asked me what was going on. In a nervous tone I explained to him what was happening. He nodded in agreement and helped me gather the food.
Now my comfort zone was feeling like it was miles away.
Step Out in Faith
Funny how we immediately shift to our comfort zone when things get weird. But being a Christian means stepping out in faith. God is calling us to reach the lonely, the lost, and the needy. He uses ordinary people just like you and me to see the world around us, and act on his behalf.
In Matthew 14:27 Jesus tells his disciples to get in the boat and go ahead of him to the other side of the lake. He had just finishing dismissing the crowd after feeding them with five loaves of bread and two fish. Later that night the disciples saw Jesus walk toward them on water and thought he was a ghost. Jesus told them, “Take courage and don’t be afraid.” Then Peter stepped out in faith walking out on the water to meet him. His faith was strong until he got out on the water and realized where he was (Matthew 14:30)!
Keep Your Eyes on Jesus
The direction God gave me was so clear that I ended up buying all of the food items that day, including some treats for small children. When my husband came home from work that evening I told him all that had happened, from the movie journey to the grocery shopping trip. I waited anxiously as he pondered all that he had just heard. After a few minutes he grinned telling me he thought it was cool that God would do this. He even offered me a ride to deliver the food.
Jesus never disappoints. When we are walking with him, spending time in his word, and open to his voice, he will use us to further his kingdom. He is never going to lead us astray! James 1:22 reminds us, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” We can’t expect to live the Christian life without being doers of the word!
You Are Not Acting Alone
Friend, if Jesus is calling you to do something, you can rest assured that he will lead you and guide you every step of the way.
God commands us not to be afraid, but he also promises that he will be with us. God isn’t going to ask us to do things for him and then leave the scene!
In Matthew 14, Jesus doesn’t let Peter sink. He reaches out his hand and catches him.
Matthew 14:31-32 “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”
So on a cold November night, our family loaded up in the minivan and headed back over to the distant apartment complex. With wobbly knees I walked up the sidewalk carrying the box of food. As I approached the apartment I noticed a child’s riding toy sitting outside the door, and heard a tiny voice coming from inside. My eyes welled up with tears as I remembered that God doesn’t make mistakes. He cared for these people so much that he even prompted me to pick up some treats for little ones! Now I was crying as I set the box down, knocked on the door and walked away.
I don’t know who that family was or what their needs were, but I do know that they mattered enough to God to call me out of my comfort zone on a chilly November afternoon. And just like scripture promises, He was with me every step of the way. I rode home that evening in a more comfortable place than I had ever been.
Where might you be headed the next time God calls you out of your comfort zone? When you hear his voice – step out in faith, keep your eyes on Jesus, and rest in the comfort that you are not doing it alone.
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