The other night a small group of friends and I from our church packed up our green Church van with blankets, coats, jackets, hats, gloves, clothes, sandwiches, water, cookies and self-made personal hygiene kits and headed into Downtown Atlanta. With all most all of the seats out of the van it felt like we were the A-Team on a mission. I may have just dated myself there…it was like driving in the Turtle Van on a mission…that may have been just as bad. Basically it was a rush and a feel of excitement and thrill of not knowing what may lie ahead but knowing what our mission was. Our mission: to seek out in the streets of Atlanta for those who were less fortunate than ourselves. Our goal: to show the love of Christ through caring for and giving those in need the items that we have collected from generous individuals. It was dark out and cold out (well…it was to me…I may not be a fair assessment of what you might consider cold. Anything below 78 degrees is cold).
We drove down dark streets and vacant parking lots looking for potential people to approach. As we met individuals on our mission many were cold, many did not need all that we had to offer and only accepted what they needed at that time. They wore what they had, bundled up some even bundled up on the side walk. Some smelling like booze, almost all looking unclean and worn out. Some appeared to be mentally disturbed and not sure what it is we were doing but almost all thanked us for what we were doing. Many showed their appreciation and surprise. Some were even hostile and demanding more from us but they were outnumbered by the look in several eyes that seemed to carry such a burden yet seemed to carry such appreciation that we had approached them and met them on a cold Georgia night. I can even remember one of the individuals that we would meet raise his hand and say “God bless you in the name of Jesus.” It went off and felt like a thunderclap in the night. Everyone that we met was a person, someone who was created in the image of God. It was His love that compelled us to seek out show our love to them.
Yes, there are places that these people can go and yes many of them choose not to in order to live a life of their choosing with their rules and their will. Many I am sure may simply feel lost and without hope. Is this not the same way we were when the Holy Spirit first found us? Choosing to live by our rules, our will and our control? Hiding in the shadows of my depravity, trying to find warmth under a cold concrete overpass in my heart with nothing to wear but my sin, I can remember feeling the touch of the Master.
He drove down the dark alleys of my soul but He knew exactly where He would find me. He gazed down the cold and dark vacant lots of my life. He carried with Him living water and the bread of life and met me where I was and said that they were both for me. You see I did not go looking for Him, He came looking for me. GLORY HALLALUJAH MY GOD AND MY KING KNEW ME AND CAME LOOKING FOR ME! How can I not drop to my knees and cry “Holy?” The Holy Spirit was on a mission, to draw me to Him, to call me out from where I was from the darkness so that He might lavishly gift me with His grace. I had and still have nothing to offer Him. There was nothing on me that I could have ever given Him to deserve or earn what He gave me next. He led me to the Father, to God, Who knew me by name and knew me before the foundation of the world was laid (Ephesians 1:4). He called me, He found me, He sought me and bought me. I am now a child of God. I have been adopted into His family and His house. I was given that wonderful amazing gift of God’s grace. Salvation came to me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. God chose me, I did not choose Him (John 15:16) and that produces a joy in me that is unmatched. It pleased God to save me, to adopt me and to lavishly cover me with His grace. So when He loved me and bid me “follow Me” what other choice was there? What other joy was there? What other hope and wonder was there? Just as my friends and I sought out those who were in need, God sent His Son so that the Holy Spirit would seek out me, for I was in need of Jesus. Is He in front of you right now as you read this? Has the Holy Spirit found you where you are, what country you are in, what alley you are trying to find warmth in on a cold winter night? I pray that He too bids you “follow Me.” Won’t you follow Him and take what He is offering? It is the greatest thing that has ever happen to me, when Jesus found me and called me by His grace. I pray that He is calling you as well.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Ephesians 1:3-14, ESV