Yesterday, while my group was serving at one of our ministries (Hands of Hope), I was struggling with being tired, sore, and ready to curl up at home. It had just been one of those days. After Hands of Hope, however, they decided that they wanted to go to Rita's to grab some water ice. In that moment part of me was against the idea - Rita's was across the city and I was not feeling well. God seemed to have had a different plan, so we ended up driving across the city. When we got there the only parking spot for the fifteen passenger van was a loading zone. Not having another place to park, it was decided to stop there since we would only be a minute.
As we made our way out of the car, I noticed a man sitting on the pavement with a sign asking for help. After briefly talking to him I found out that he was a fan of chocolate water ice and was able to get some for him. I stooped down to hand it to him just before I noticed the parking authority was walking by. When I quickly went to explain to the man that we would soon be moving the van he said, "Don't worry about it. God's gonna bless you for that," as he pointed to the man on the sidewalk.
That night I was blessed. I got to hear a bit of Ryan's story as we ate our water ice. He told me about his being homeless, not having an I.D. to stay in shelters, and about living life out on the streets. I heard about the hardships that had crossed his path and even got to share with him some of my experiences with CSM this summer. Conversation carried on to cover a variety of topics from his friends to life in Philly to how he'd been sick recently. Towards the end I was able to pray with him asking God to intervene with the trials that he faced. As I was leaving, Ryan encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing and thanked me. My heart was full. That night Ryan blessed me with much more than I could have done for him.
It's funny how quickly God can turn around a situation and change your heart. While I had been so anxious to get home, the opportunity could have been missed for something much more precious than accomplishing my own goals. It wasn't until after I talked with Ryan that I realized I had been in the right place after all. It may have been a long day, but God's plan was so much bigger than my petty one to go home. He used this little detour on our trip home to not only bring me encouragement, but also the chance to give encouragement. God is working even in our most difficult days. He is growing and changing my heart with the simplest of interactions, bringing me one small step closer to what it means to actually look on the city with love. Even when the road seems rough God might just provide a miracle.
- Bridget, CSM Philadelphia Summer 2013 City Host
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