A Simple Cup Of Water

A Simple Cup Of Water

As I was on my run through Mission Viejo, I came upon a man on the corner with a cardboard sign that said “PLEASE HELP”.  He was also wearing a shirt that said he was homeless.

I won’t lie, I found that a bit odd. I kept on running.

Then it hit me. God whispered in my heart to help the man.

It didn’t matter what my perceptions were, my fellow brother in Christ needed help.

I was reminded of words spoken by Jesus himself.

“If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded” – Mark 9:41 NLT

All I had was two fives. It was money I was using to stop at the store later to pick up some groceries on the way back. Most people tend to give homeless people just a few dollar bills. If we don’t have ones, we don’t give them anything.

I turned around, pulled out one of the fives and very happily gave it to the man.

I saw the face of an older man. A man who has lived a long life and was struggling. This wasn’t some younger person with their full physical abilities. This is someone much further along in their life.

His face lit up. He thanked me profusely. He told me he’d pray for my family and I. I told him God loves him and to take care.

With that I continued on my run.

Then I felt guilty. I felt like I should have given him all of my money. After all I was going to be headed home to a house. I’d be eating a good dinner and sleeping in a comfortable bed with my family all under the same roof.

After turning around to head back home, I decided I’d offer to go buy him some food at the store. I’d make sure he was nourished.

As I came back up to him, he saw me and smiled. He thanked me again. I asked him his name, and found out it was Henry. We placed our hands on each others shoulders. I talked to him and asked if I could buy him some food. I told him I wanted to make sure that he was eating and taking good care of himself. He said thank you, but he was fine. He pointed to his bag where I saw he had some food given by other people. I checked again,”Are you sure there’s nothing I can get you?”. He said he was fine and then told me again that he would pray for me and my family.

I told him again to take care, told him God loved him, put my headphones back in my ears and went to go cross the street.

Then I felt him touch my shoulder. I turned around, took out my headphones and with him staring into my eyes he said.

“Jesus loves you. I will pray that He will give you and your family double.”

I started to tear up.

I thanked Henry before I became a sobbing mess on the side of the road.

How did this man know my struggles? How could he imagine to say something that I so badly needed to hear at that moment?

When you’re un-employed, financially stressed out and anxious to get back to work, those words just dive deep into your soul.

While my faith is strong, when your stress limits are pushed to the edge you begin to wonder how much God loves you. After all, if He did wouldn’t He want to make things better? Despite the most intense levels of perseverance, you just want the pain over with.

At that moment, I felt like God was talking to me through this man. As if God found a way to remind me in an audible way that He does in fact love me and that help was coming.

Henry had just blessed me more than any amount of cash could possibly bless him.

As I recounted the story for my wife later that evening I did break into tears. As I write this I find myself tearing up.

My family and I prayed for him later that evening, and I kindly ask that you do the same in your prayers.

While I know I did a good thing for Henry, in the end I realize I was the one who got the biggest blessing. The greatest gift. The greatest help. It’s a moment in my life I will remember until the day I die and will forever give thanks for.

Perseverance

Perseverance

Hard times. Troubles. Challenges. Trials.

We hate those words.

Those words scare us.

No one in their heart of hearts ever desires to really go through them.

No matter your age, gender, nationality or wealth you get to experience them multiple times throughout your life.

Sometimes we deal with multiple challenges and trials at the same time. I really hate that!

Like myself, you might be dealing with them right now.

What’s interesting is that as a society, despite the fact that we hate these struggles, challenges and trials we enjoy movies, books, TV shows, and music that tackle these words head on. For me, it’s always been movies that mean the most. It’s the medium I connect with and speaks to my heart and soul.

“Apollo 13” and “The Martian” are two movies that stand out amongst the crowd.
Apollo 13 is perhaps the most meaningful because it actually happened.

Here you have three men in space, and hundreds on Earth who have trained and prepared for what is to date still one of the most daunting voyages ever undertaken. The crew of Apollo 13 flung themselves into the cosmos, knowing there were so many things they couldn’t predict or anticipate. It required a huge level of faith.

Then so many things went wrong, none of which they were ever prepared for.

While it’s amazing that they overcame everything, what’s more amazing is their perseverance. They kept “working the problem” no matter how tired, hungry or afraid of death they were.

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be more mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4

That perseverance taught all of NASA, and the world not just how to solve those problems. It taught them how to deal with, or avoid future problems.

Perseverance isn’t easy. It’s the part we hate the most about our trials. We want to pray away, wish away, or pay away the problem. We just want it to go away, get our lesson and move on.

While that may work, it’s a band-aid. You aren’t taking care of the root issue and you aren’t really preparing for what’s coming down the line.

Your perseverance may be required for days, months or years. There may even be times where you think you’re done, but you’re really still in the middle of it. It’s the center of the storm, and you still have a dark, overwhelming journey ahead of you. That right there is so scary to realize and accept. It gives me chills just writing it.

Even scarier is that you may have to deal with something that requires perseverance for the rest of your life. That’s really hard to admit and write.

Being out of work for the last 4 months after 16 years straight of employment, I have struggled with perseverance every single day.

Getting out of bed realizing I still don’t have a job.  Trying to find a job. Trying to get interviews. Trying to not let the disappointment crawl into my head and affect my moods, or impact the people around me. I want to snap my fingers and make it all go away, I want God to make a job immediately appear.

Some might say “If God loves you so much, then why doesn’t He make it all better?”.

Could He? Yup.

Do I wish He would? Every day.

God is not a vending machine.
God is not a genie.
God is not Amazon with next day delivery.

He wants to help us with our problems, but He’s not interested in immediately solving all of them. He wants us to learn perseverance. He wants us to put faith in Him at a level that some find a bit illogical.  As the passage in James 1 continues…

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8 NIV

I have learned that while I lean on Him for guidance, strength and wisdom He is refining me like a goldsmith. He is keeping me strong through the fires so that what comes out on the other end is an even stronger person.

“Then I will test those survivors by giving them many troubles. The troubles will be like the fire a person uses to prove silver is pure. I will test them the way a person tests gold. Then they will call to me for help, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘You are my people.’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” – Zechariah 13:9 ERV

What’s comforting is that He’s promised that if we stick through it. If we persevere. If we stay close to Him that HE WILL deliver us. HE WILL make life better. HE WILL prepare us for the next challenges that we encounter.

It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s frustrating.

He will NEVER forsake us and NEVER break a single promise.

While my trials aren’t over by far, I am stronger and getting stronger every day.

I know this because…

He’s brought me through the challenges of the past.
He’s bringing me through the challenges I’m going through now
He’s going to bring me through the challenges in the future.

It just requires perseverance and putting absolute FAITH and TRUST in Him. 

In the end He will make us like a precious and strong metal with a value that can never be measured. We will then proudly proclaim Him as our great God. The provider of all providers. The father that loves and supports us 24-7, 365.

For those who are fighting the fight, or multiple fights. Know that you are not alone. Keep persevering. Keep praying. Know that He is in your corner.  He is fighting for you. He is with you. Yes, even those that don’t believe in Him.

For those that have fought the fight, or are in a calm spot. Keep praising His name. Keep leaning on Him. Keep the perseverance alive. Help your fellow brother and sister through their fight. Remind them that they too will make it through. Remind them that they’ll be better than when they first started. Pray for and with them, especially those that haven’t given their life to Christ.

God has got this.
God has got you.
PERSERVERE ON