A couple Saturdays ago, my teammate Luke and I were walking through Golden Gate Park. Like usual, prayerfully asking God to guide our steps and enable us to connect with people and communicate his love. We came upon a big pile of street kids sitting on the hill in the sun, warming off the chill from the previous night. As Luke talked with some guys, I sat down next to ..., a 19 year old girl our whole team has been getting to know over the last month and a half. She sat on her skateboard, resourcefully patching the holes in her pants with scraps of fabric and dental floss for thread. We chatted as she sewed. When she finished patching a hole, there was a small piece of fabric left with no hole to cover. Most people would throw it away, but even the smallest scrap of fabric is useful when you where the same pair of pants every day. She gave the little one square inch piece of fuzzy leopard print fabric to me to sew on to my pants...a seemingly small gift, but very meaningful to me. I'm currently eyeing the holes in my jeans, determining which one is worthy to be adorned with her patch.
She had gone out for ice cream the night before with Luke & Courtney. She had had a rough evening and needed to talk so they treated her to ben & jerry's, talking over cookie dough about the many struggles of her life. I asked her if she had a good time etc. A few minutes later in the conversation, after thinking quietly for a few seconds, she looked at me and said, "You didn't get to go to ice cream last night and you really like ice cream. I have money today and as soon as I finish sewing these patches on, I want to take you out for ice cream." My empty pockets seemed to burn as I realized I had no money with me to pitch in, but I said okay. It was really precious to watch over the next hour or so her hospitality in hosting me and Luke for ice cream. It's better to give than to receive....and sometimes it's better to give someone the chance to give, that they might experience it's joy. I was blessed to see this girl, who has no earthly reason to trust or like anyone, treat us with much kindness. She asked if we would be okay with McDonald's because it wasn't very expensive. We said that was great. We told her to get one hot fudge sundae that all three of us could split. She bought two...and made sure we were enjoying it before she partook herself. When she spilled a few peanuts from the package and noticed the birds liked them...she poured a bunch out for the birds, because they should have some too. She made every effort to make sure that we were enjoying our ice cream, like any good hostess at a dinner party, even cleaning off the trash at our table as we sat. Jesus said when we do something unto the least of these, we've done it unto him....and I wonder, when the least of these does something for us, is Jesus giving us a gift? Oftentimes I come expecting to give, and God asks me to be ready to receive.
She has an incredibly sweet disposition after living through the hardships that she has. She has made many bad choices. But the choices she had to choose between and the choices I had to choose between were worlds apart. I am glad to serve a God who is sovereign and just, but who is near to the brokenhearted and whose heart is saddened by the profound pain in our world. It's not okay that she had the childhood she did and that the foster care system wasn't much of a help. As a girl so affected by her surroundings, it not okay that her surroundings have consistently been life-stealing rather life giving. The thief did indeed come to steal, kill and destroy and it is painful to see his theft, murder and destruction at work. But I rejoice that there is one who came that we might have abundant life, and that she might have abundant life. Please pray for her, that the longings within her she seeks to fill with boys, drugs, and the adventure of the open road...would be found fulfilled in the deep deep love of Christ. Grace that is far deeper than the depth of human sin and need. I long for she to hear the Father tell her that she is his daughter, that he has adopted her into his family and clothed her with robes of salvation and given her a new name. Pray that she would respond to God's pursuit of her and that the other things she pursues would be found lacking.