{ When Love Becomes an Action: Starbucks & a Homeless Man }

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“Nothing you do in this life will ever matter unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made.”  – Francis Chan

In church on Sunday, the Pastor preached from John 15. Specifically, he shared the challenge to live out the final verse of that chapter, verse 27, which says that we MUST testify of Him. He shared about how God didn’t say it as suggestion, an idea, or a recommendation, but rather by including that word “must,” it was as a command that we as believers needed to follow. Yesterday, I felt the Lord teach me and show me something through my husband about what that looks like that was so profound in a moment when my heart was uneasy and fearful.

Yesterday, Brandon and I were driving home from Virginia after a long weekend spent with family. Naturally, I made him stop at Starbucks so I could get some coffee. We pulled in and parked, and as I got out of the car, Brandon proceeded to put all the snacks and water we had in our car into a bag. As I walked into Starbucks, Brandon told me that he was going to walk over to a homeless man that we had passed a little ways away to give him the bag of food and water. I had barely noticed this man as we drove by him. He was standing in a small strip of land in the middle of a big intersection holding a sign asking for food and help.

In that moment, my initial reaction was no way. I did not want Brandon to leave me alone at Starbucks, and I surely didn’t want him to cross many lanes of traffic and walk out into the middle of that highway for a stranger. I asked him not to, but truthfully I knew that he would go regardless. I walked into Starbucks to get my coffee as he walked away towards the highway, and all I could do at that moment was to pray and trust that God would protect my husband and keep him safe. When I came outside, I sat on the patio and watched as my husband stood in the distance with that homeless man in the middle of the intersection as cars drove by them. I sat there for 10 minutes or so watching my husband have a conversation with this man. When he returned, we got back in the car and went on our way. Brandon proceeded to tell me this man’s name, and shared a little bit about his story and his struggle with me. We talked for a few minutes, and then Brandon fell asleep.

As I drove in silence the Lord began to speak to my heart and I was convicted, challenged, and encouraged at the same time. When we passed by this man initially on our way in to Starbucks, I remember thinking to myself that he had picked a really dumb place to stand. People drove by that intersection fast, and no one was really able to stop to help. I never once thought that I should go help him. You see, I had an agenda, and wanted a quick and easy stop to get my coffee. I wanted to be comfortable, safe, and was only really thinking about myself. But if anyone knows my husband, you know that he is one of the most genuine and selfless people, always looking to love and serve others regardless of the situation or risk to himself.

As I drove away, I felt the Lord whisper to my heart “isn’t he worth it too?” As Christians, we get so wrapped up in the idea of being comfortable and in control. We never stop to think about truly serving others when it’s inconvenient for us. That man, even though he was homeless, was no less loved and valued by God than Brandon and I. His life was just as valuable as ours. He was worth allowing my husband to cross two intersections and four lanes of traffic just to be able to love and serve him. John 15:27 says that we MUST testify of the Lord, but how is that possible if we don’t truly love ALL people? How is that possible if our love for others doesn’t force us into action, regardless of the risks? How is that possible if we pass by these people everyday without ever taking the time to approach them and talk with them?

Jesus gave up his life for each one of us, and I was afraid to allow my husband to walk across four lanes of traffic to stand in the middle of the road? Wow. In that moment I was forced to really put things back into perspective and remind myself what’s important: loving people. True love isn’t always easy, safe, or comfortable. It requires us to step into the unknown, and to trust HIM.

You see, I don’t share this story to brag about my husband or to make him look like some hero. Brandon does these types of things all the time, regardless of where we are or who we are with, and 99% of the time, I’m the only one who knows about it. He does it because his heart is genuine after the Lord and beats to love and serve others.  Mainly, I share this with you as a challenge. Everyday, we pass by people who are hurting, homeless, hungry and in need. People who are hopeless, depressed, suicidal, and at the end of their rope. People who are addicted to drugs, pornography, or alcohol. People who are poor, uneducated, dirty, and poorly dressed. People who look different than us, act different, and share different beliefs than us. But, what does that matter? If you claim to be a believer, you are called to love and serve others. Period. God doesn’t call us to serve only when it’s easy, safe, or in our timing. He calls us to serve ALWAYS, and I think too often, we as believers (Brandon and I included) allow people to pass by us everyday without living out that command to testify of the Lord; to share of His goodness, His love, His mercy, grace and forgiveness; to share of His healing, His protection, and His favor over our lives.

In that moment when Brandon was able to talk with this man, he took time to listen and love on him, despite his situation. He was able to ask him if he needed prayer, and to minister to his specific situation. Most importantly, he was able to love without boundaries. True, intentional, unconditional love that can only come from HIM. Brandon saw him as a person, not as a homeless man on the streets begging. As we laid in bed that night, Brandon took my hand and we prayed together for this man. That God would protect him, provide for him, and change his situation. Although we will probably never see him again, we can rest assured that God used Brandon’s obedience to touch him, and will continue to provide for all of his needs.

Going forward, I pray each of us can lay aside our pride, our selfishness, and our agenda to love and serve others around us. I pray that God would open our hearts and eyes to see the need around us everyday and that He would give us all boldness, strength, and courage to step out of our comfort zone and love others the way He has called us to.

Life is short. Everyday we are given is a gift and a new opportunity to share our faith with others. This week, I challenge each one of you to allow the Lord to use you to impact others. Pray for God to reveal to your heart someone in need and then act on it. Needs are all around us, but nothing changes if we don’t first take that step out in faith and obedience and make our love an action.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” {Psalm 27:13}

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Jesus Follower // Wife to Brandon // Co-Founder of Honduran Soles // Faithful You are, Faithful You will always be // Luke 1:45

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