*I am sharing this confession not to boast about my sin. Sin is not a laughing matter, it actually makes me mourn. I share this to boast about my God, to testify He is alive and His Spirit still convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment and He uses yielded vessels to show His love. This true story is an example of how I willfully made choices not to grieve Him with my disobedience--even though it wasn't first time obedience.
I like Chipotle Restaurants and I love God.
To love God is easier said than shown. God says, ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). God’s two greatest commandments involve the word LOVE so I’d say love is very important to God. I’m learning love is an action, not a feeling--you can’t love without giving and this particular sunny California day God was about to teach me again about His love….
Before I left the garage of my Grandma’s house to pick up our lunch I prayed God would give me an opportunity to share life giving words to a hungry soul. Twenty minutes later I was paying for my favorite meal and excited to return to my Grandma to share the goodness of this perishable food when God answered my forgotten prayer. As I looked towards the exit door I saw a homeless man outside. I quickly looked for another exit so I wouldn’t have to pass by him and be bothered when all of a sudden the Holy Spirit convicts me of my lack of love. God ordered my steps…He told me to go out the door near the homeless man: it was my choice to obey or not. I obeyed. As I walked out he asked for change and tells me he is very hungry. Not wanting my food to get cold, and remembering I have no cash, I selfishly tell him I have nothing to give him and I walk away. I was wrong.
The Holy Spirit gently reminded me of the change in my wallet and the change of my heart. I turn back and excitedly say,
“Wait, I do have change to give you!”
He thanked me, and as I dug through my wallet I asked him his name. Joey. I asked Joey if he knows the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course he knows about Jesus Christ, he lives in America where the Gospel is plentiful, but after a few words about God I could tell he did not know God. Joey was hungry for more than perishable food. Joey was telling me about lent and said a few incorrect things. I shared with Joey about what God had been teaching me about a different type of fasting. A fasting that happens as a result of being mournful and sorrowful for my sin and disobedience towards God when I become too distraught about my sin I can’t eat. I asked him if he knew about that kind of fasting? He shook his head. I asked him if he knew the love of God and shared the Word:
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
I went on to share what Jesus Christ says eternal life is:
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3)
Joey looks intently at me and says, “I met people like you the other day.”
I smile and respond, “Joey that is God sending you messengers desiring for you to be reconciled to God, to come back to Him. I know this to be true because I prayed to meet someone that needed to hear God’s words and God sent me you.”
With my eyes filled with tears I looked into Joey’s eyes and said, “Joey God loves you with an everlasting love and He forgives you and wants you to follow Him.” Joey’s lips quiver and his eyes begin to well up with tears threatening to burst. I asked him if he believed that? He didn't say anything. I told him I would pray he will believe and that God would send more messengers to him and I turn to walk away again and look around me. I begin to get angry at all ‘these people’ who have and don’t give…then God convicted me of the log in my eye and I mourned for my sin because I am ‘these people’ again God speaks to my heart:
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:15-17
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth” 1 John 3:17
Full of unspeakable joy I tell Joey, “God just told me to buy you lunch, come inside with me!” He is in shock.
What Joey didn’t know was this required me to die to self and walk in faith. I didn’t have the money to buy this meal but I knew God told me. I shared James 2:15-17 with Joey and we walk up to the counter and I see the look of shock in the faces of the employees, some with disgust. I asked him to order whatever he wanted and he says, “Uh, just chips and salsa please.” I reply, “Is that all you want? You said you were hungry.” I realized he had never stepped foot in this restaurant before and the looks of the employees were distracting him so I ordered him exactly what I ordered myself following God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself. As I was placing Joey’s order I couldn’t help the tears that were streaming down my face--it was a mixture of mourning and joy.
The mourning was for my delayed obedience and for Joey's spiritual famine...he doesn’t know Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The joy was for God's compassion and forgiveness and that God chose me to show Joey His love.
When I get to the cash register the young lady takes my card to charge and another employee comes from behind and cancels our order and says, ‘It’s all taken care of.” I burst with the first thing in my heart, “Praise God! Thank you!” Just when I think I am finished God tells me to sit with Joey and give thanks and pray with him. Again, I die to self because I didn’t know where his hands had been and God was specific: to pray holding his hands. I obeyed. We sit amongst a crowded area and I pray as the Holy Spirit gave utterance. After we prayed I knew I was done because I was overcome with the peace, love and joy that filled my heart. I told Joey I would continue to pray for him as the LORD reminded me and I left a different person. The restaurant was silent as I felt all eyes watch me leave and I knew God was glorified in that place.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1)
I share this encounter with you to praise God with me and to testify of His LOVE. As I have confessed, my flesh wanted to walk the other way three times. My flesh wanted to:
Deny Joey money
Deny Joey God’s eternal food
Deny Joey perishable food
Deny Joey intercession
Deny Joey love
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
God’s Spirit directed my steps and it is His righteousness that deserves all the praise, honor and glory! God is glorified because it was His giving:
God gave His Son Jesus Christ to reconcile me to Himself allowing me to have a heart to love, ears to hear Him, eyes to see
God gave me His Holy Spirit, the comforter that teaches me and guides me in Truth and brings to remembrance God’s Word
God gave me the courage to obey
God even took care of the cost of Joey’s lunch!
I am a vessel. I desire to be a yielded vessel of God’s mercy, grace and LOVE. My faith was strengthened that day and I was no longer hungry because I had been filled.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." 1 John 4:11-12
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven”. Matthew 5:16
**I realize there are people that will want to take advantage, and who knows, maybe that was Joey’s intention but God’s Word tells us only He knows the thoughts and intentions of a man’s heart. My calling is to remain connected to the True Vine and follow and obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I am not telling you to give anything, I am not the Holy Spirit, there is only One God and He is looking for yielded vessels to inhabit to pour out His love, I pray you are one of them**