Each morning, I take up one of several favorite coffee cups, most of them marketing keepsakes from events. However, this one has very special meaning.
As I recall, it was a Wednesday night, back when churches held mid-week services. A former pastor and his wife had been providing a weekly devotional at a local domestic violence shelter. A young lady named Debbie had experienced a life change by way of their message and had come by their invitation to share her story.
She had gotten a job and had transportation but no place to live apart from the shelter. I was touched by her story and suddenly reminded of one of my joyous moments of prayerful stretching. I recalled my words, prayed earlier out thankfulness after we had moved into a newly constructed home. In my prayers, I had visualized a day when it would be possible for us to provide someone with a home. I have always assumed that we were blessed to be a blessing.
After Debbie shared her story, she returned to the end seat of her pew. I began thinking maybe she was an answer to my prayers. I was a little concerned that I might talk first with my wife, but felt prompted beyond any hesitancy, so I cautiously slipped into the pew beside her. I have learned to act in obedience to such moments, the price of great stories!
I remember the awkwardness of slipping in beside her on the pew, understanding how her recent encounter with domestic violence might have limited her comfort level with strangers. I was likely over apologizing in the moment and a little guarded in how I explained what I had just been prompted to do.
I distinctively remember the immediacy of her reply, when I shared that I would like to help buy her a home. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "I don't need a house to take care of at this time in my life!" I was shocked, but somewhat relieved. I then asked if I might help with a furnished apartment? By then the Spirit had more clearly brought to mind what I was really being prompted to do. Tears came to her eyes and she gave me a gentle hug.
That night I called a gentleman who lived behind the church campus with whom I had become friends. He had once been homeless, had gotten his life back together, was newly married and had inherited multiple apartments from his mom. God touched his heart and adjusted my dream to our capacity!
The next morning, we relocated Debbie into a nicely furnished, safe apartment directly behind the church. She would live there for years.
Debbie has since passed but the inexpensive cup, a gift to me on Christmas in 2003, is a most cherished reminder of the joy of generosity and the life giving rewards that follow behind what is often awkward obedience.