Instead of the bright sunny day we were anticipating, the sun hid behind clouds, changing our plans.
No pool = disappointed children.
But God had a different plan for our family. Far greater than we could have imagined.
When our little ewoks were taking their naps, Matt stayed home so I could do a special date with Stephen and Abbie. They chose the library of all places, so after a quick bite at Panera, we drove towards the Abingdon branch. Just as we were approaching the entrance, we noticed a homeless woman holding a sign that read "Homeless: Please help." The kids anticipated my words before they even left my mouth.
"Guys - we have to see what's going on here. I'm going to stop."
That began an adventure that wonderfully consumed our afternoon and extended into the evening.
If the sun was out and shining bright like the weather forecast stated, we never would have met Sandy, a 42 year old homeless woman in our own community. I never would have had the privilege of sitting in the library, listening to her life story; learning of her struggles.
If the sun was out, we never would have had dinner with her as a family.
If the sun was out, we never would have sat in a restaurant, sharing the gospel with her.
She never would have heard Jayda (3) sing Happy Birthday to everyone in the van as we drove to a nearby hotel.
If the sun was out, Abbie would not have been walking through Target with me, picking out clothes for a woman that didn't have any.
If the sun was out, our children would not have experienced our attempt at living out the parable of the Good Samaritan, as we sought to care for our neighbor.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
We planned our way today and the way led to the pool we just joined. But the Lord established our steps and He led our every step to Sandy.
And I'm so grateful He did.
Our family is nothing special. We are not uniquely gifted and we don't have experience working with the homeless. But our lives have been bombarded with God's grace and mercy; both of which we do not deserve. This love that Christ has shown towards us is what motivated us to befriend a stranger. It is His doing; not ours.
When we finally got home and put the little guys to bed, we sat with Stephen and Abbie and asked them what they thought about everything that took place. They admitted their initial fear and uncomfortableness, but they thought it was cool that when the evening was over, she had a safe and comfortable place to sleep.
Stephen and Abbie prayed for Sandy aloud, and as they did, I thanked Him for hiding the sun behind the clouds today.
*An excellent book that transformed my heart towards the poor is "Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road" by Timothy J. Keller.