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.

God Listens. God Answers. God Loves.

As someone who is a practicing Christian, living up to God‘s word isn’t easy.

I know He doesn’t expect me to be perfect, but my personality doesn’t let me shoot for anything less than that.  Oh, I don’t hit perfect. Never will. Doesn’t stop me from trying.

To say God has blessed my life is an understatement.

I’m married to a woman, who is amazing just in the fact that she puts up with me. Then she’s amazing in so many ways on top of that.

I’ve got two wonderful children who I couldn’t be prouder of.

I’ve got a job where I have the potential to do so many amazing things with co-workers that challenge me and keep me laughing.

I live in a nice home, eat good food and have friends and family that love and care about me.

Recently we received another blessing. My wife got a new job.
It freed her from one where they didn’t appreciate her and left her feeling like crap at the end of the day.

Really what do I have to be upset about in life? Nada.
There are A LOT of things that could be wrong in my life, but they aren’t.

But like so many people, even for those that seem to have it all there are days that stress the ever-loving crap out of me. That’s especially so when it comes to finances.

There was just one small hitch with this new job…it would mean that we’d have to get our own health insurance or pay for COBRA which is incredibly expensive.

We’re trying to be responsible and tackle the debt we accrued so this expense was going to put us in a tough position, possibly leaving us without health insurance.

Saturday night as we reviewed the options and my stress level jumped, my wife was loving and supportive reminding me to lean on God. For  a split second I thought, but didn’t shout out “How the heck is God going to put that money in our bank account?!!!

Yup, I really thought that. Mr. loving Christian…totally doubting his God.

After filling out the massive online application for two medical insurance providers and a couple of drinks, I prayed.

Then over the course of the last few days it felt like all the financial weight of the world was upon me. Yesterday on a long drive to San Diego, I had a long conversation with God.

My simple prayer was “I don’t need more money. I don’t want more money. I just want to be able to take care of everything and make ends meet.”

Then immediately after I was done I got a phone call that created more financial stress. I looked up and cried up “Really? You call that help?”

Yes, I verbally questioned God. I was pissed with Him. Why after spending the time to talk with Him, could He let that happen? I started questioning, why have faith in something that didn’t seem to deliver? Why keep praying and asking for help when I felt like I kept hitting brick walls?

This is the challenge that people make, somewhat rightfully so. How could this all-powerful, awesome, loving entity allow bad things to happen?

Shortly after 9/11 I had a conversation with my boss. Him being a devout Catholic, I asked him “How could God have allowed that to happen?”. His answer was simple “Because He’s fighting the devil, and sometimes the devil wins”.

Yes God is powerful, but bad things happen, they will always happen and He doesn’t make them happen, He doesn’t allow them to happen they just happen.

Sometimes out of pain and tragedy comes something so much better. Sometimes after having your world rocked, good is shown to you and reminds you of what you have to be thankful for and reminds you that there is so much more good in this world than bad.

We saw that after 9/11. We’ve seen that after so many of the tragedies that have taken so many from us and hurt so many. We’ve seen heroes rise from the ashes. We’ve seen people be blessed in ways that they wouldn’t have, had the bad things not happened.

I’ve learned over time  and have been reminded recently by our Pastor, Rick Warren “God wants to turn your mess, into his message. God takes your test and makes it your testimony”.

This morning I said a far simpler prayer. “God, I don’t know what your plans are, or where you’re going with any of this. I don’t understand it and I can’t control it. But I guess that’s just it. I’m trying to wrestle control over something that only You can handle. So I’m going to let You take it from here and stop questioning You.”.

About 30 minutes later I got a call from my wife. Her new employer was going to let us take advantage of the health insurance immediately. It would go into effect immediately after our current insurance expires.

Problem solved. Crisis Averted. God comes through…AGAIN.

Not only had God helped us get the insurance we needed at a price we could afford, but He also showed us how even more amazing my wife’s new job and boss was. She’s working for people who care about her and our family.

Yeah, I felt like a heel having gotten so angry, and even having doubted Him.

But then I remembered that He loves me no matter what. Even though I had gotten angry at Him and thought He was a bad parent. As it is when my children do this, I still love them and He still loves me. He’s still looking out for me. He’s still making sure that my path ahead leads to something good.

The path won’t be without bumps. It won’t be without challenges. It won’t be without pain, sorrow and loss, but He’s there with me to give me strength, love, support and protection that no one else can.

With this, He’s made my mess his message, and turned a test into a testimony.

Folks, God doesn’t make sense and He never will to us here on this planet.
The great thing is that His love knows no bounds. His forgiveness is powerful. His support is like none other.

When I look at the big picture of my life I see how He’s done some pretty astounding things, and seen the person He’s transformed me into despite who I am and how I’ve talked to Him. My life has been much more amazing since I let Him in it.

One of these days I will learn to let go better. I’ll stop trying to control things I can’t. I’ll stop trying to understand Him and just trust in Him.

So why did I write all of this? Am I trying to convert people? Am I trying to thump a “virtual Bible“?

No, I wrote this for two reasons:

1. To give thanks to Him for saving my butt, yet again in the most public way possible.
2. To help others see how He’s worked in my life in the off-chance they could become interested in learning more about Him.

Even if I never achieve my second goal, I know that my first goal is accomplished and that’s what matters most to me.

“So we don’t focus on the troubles we see right now; instead we look forward to what we don’t see yet. For the troubles we see now are temporary, but the joys to come will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:18