A church in town has a great sign, "You saw God today in line at the food bank. How did you react?" Being a person that works in the realm of social services, and a christian, I smile when I drive by.
My philosophy on Christianity is just that; how we treat others, especially the marginalized, is how we treat God. When this philosophy is spread across my life, and is enacted with each person I meet, it puts me at odds with mainstream Christianity. It puts me at odds with people I've known my entire life. It puts me at odds with the congregation in the church I attend. I cannot read a Christian newspaper or blog without becoming upset with what people are saying. I do know that there are christians like me, but they are not the people surrounding me. That disconnect leaves me with questions.
Lately, I've questioned whether I really am a christian. Not that I question Christ's death and resurrection and my baptism. No, I've questioned whether there is a current relationship, because I'm so different. But yesterday, God let me know that He's still with me.
Last year, at Project Homeless Connect, I gave a hiking pack to a very grateful man. He was so excited to have it, so I was shocked when 30 minutes to an hour later, he came back into the donation area, with a young woman. He saw me and said, "she needed it more than me." Yes, even if you are homeless, someone else has it worse than you. I was so touched that I gave him my card, told him to come by the office, and I would make sure we had another pack for him. I asked on Facebook if anyone had one to donate (the one I gave away had been my parents' hiking packs.) A friend messaged me that it was an opportunity from God for him, and had a new backpack shipped to my office.
The man never came in to the office. I haven't seen him about either. I wasn't sure if he left town, or is one of the homeless in our city that died last year. Shortly after the even, a fire in an abandoned house killed and injured homeless people. I took the pack with me yesterday, hoping he'd come in to Project Homeless Connect again. A few people asked about the pack while we were giving out donations, and each time I explained it was for a specific person. Then a young guy came up, and asked if he could trade his smaller pack, for that nice one. I told him it was for someone, but if that person didn't come in, I would give it to him. I don't know why I told him that, and not anyone else. Maybe it was because he was willing to trade, so that someone else could have his backpack, and he didn't want to just have 2. Whatever the reason, I had committed to it.
Almost 2 hours went by, and no sight of the man from last year. The young man came by to check with me, and I told him I wanted to give the guy a bit more time, but it would be his if I didn't see him. Once he left, I started thinking that I could give the young man the pack, and if the other guy came through, I would find him a new pack, just as I had the year before. That thought soon became conviction, and I caught the eye of the young man, who was sitting at a table with some companions. As I handed him a brand new hiking pack, he said "thank you." I had expected that. I heard thank you all day from those we were helping. It was what he said next that hit me, as if God was saying those words straight to me. He said, "I have been praying for a backpack. This is an answer to prayer." I smiled, but couldn't speak. What could I say?
I saw God yesterday. I will continue to see him as I reach out to those that others avoid.