Signs and Wonders

We saw them as we were stopped at the traffic light. At the time I wondered aloud about what they could be doing on the corner of the highway. Camped out under a group of decorative trees and bushes the young trio resembled scouts on an overnight.

Turning into the entrance of the mall I could see that two of them were holding signs. However the line of cars on the other side of the divider obscured my vision so I couldn’t really see what was printed on them.

They’re raising money for a cause, I thought to myself. After all, in our town it’s not unusual to see people standing on the corner asking for donations for the fire department or the humane society. In fact, kids are always waving signs urging me to pull my car into the parking lot for a quick wash in exchange for dollars toward funding the cheerleading squad or purchasing new band uniforms.

I knew that following our Sunday-after-church-lunch I’d have another opportunity to see what charity they were fundraising for and be able to drop in a dollar or two if I liked what I saw.

And after about an hour, that opportunity came. As our car waited in line to make a righthand turn onto the highway I saw them again. And this time I could clearly read the words on the signs.

They read:

“We are hungry” and “Food”

I know, I know. It could have been a scam. Another attempt to bilk me out of my hard-earned money. Perfectly able-bodied human beings looking for a hand-out.

But in the moment there was a choice to be made.

And because I have free will I could look the other way and drive by.

Or…

Or I could look at the one who was looking at me and choose to be present.

To be kind.

To give hope.

To share what I had.

Whether I judged them to be deserving or not.

So I asked Phil to hand me the bag of food from the back seat. Inside were two large portions of beautifully prepared Italian dishes complete with bread.  I rolled down the window and handed that bag of warm deliciousness to one of the women dressed in khaki and green. She smiled broadly and uttered an enthusiastic, “Wow!”.

I met her eyes and returned the smile.

And then we drove away.

The world is always looking for signs and wonders. If they would only see a miracle, then they would believe. The strange thing is that those very signs and miracles are all around us every day. But our ability to sense them has become dulled.

I choose to see this encounter with the woman on the side of the road as a sign of God’s good provision.

Even a miracle of sorts.

You see, during our lunch our waitress had approached us and told us that she had made a mistake when she rang up our order. It seems that she had charged us for a dinner portion instead of a lunch and it qualified us to pick another entrée to take home.

For Free.

We had wondered how in the world we would be able to eat all of that food.

Hmm… a wonder.

Another sign that if I keep my heart open I can be an active participant in God’s blessing to others.

And to be a witness to His daily miracle of love.

One wonderful, miraculous, blessing at a time.

 

 

 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Miracles

I believe in miracles. I just never guessed that a miracle would involve a mission of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. During the summer months I spend part of every Wednesday traveling the country roads surrounding my town delivering peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  A devoted group of volunteers gathers midweek in our church’s fellowship hall to slather slices of bread with peanut butter and jelly in an effort to feed our community’s hungry children.

The first part of the miracle begins as an assembly line forms midmorning. Purposeful hands make sandwiches, while others stuff brown paper lunch bags with granola bars, applesauce, fruit, veggies and homemade cookies. Coolers are filled with ice and bottled water is packed in tight. Baby food and formula is set aside for the families with infants.

There is no official sign-up sheet for this ministry. Eleven o’clock dawns on Wednesday morning and through the door the workers pour in. Despite summer camps, swimming lessons, crazy schedules and family vacations, they come. Although you may not see exactly the same faces each week, there is always more than enough help to get the lunches packed, the vans loaded and the lunches delivered. This is the body of Christ at its best, working in miraculous precision.

Part two of the miracle happens as we deliver the lunches to grateful families. My group drives our big, white church van filled primarily with colleagues from my school. Distributing the food offers up opportunities to continue to connect with our students and their families. We speak words of love, listen as problems are shared, offer up encouragement and pray.

It always amazes me how receptive most people are when I ask if they would like for me to pray with them. Sometimes I have just met them and have to ask their name before I begin praying. They might feel a bit awkward at first as I take their hand and pray out loud, but afterwards I see it. It is the look in their eyes that tells me that they have been acknowledged before the throne of God as a person of worth. That, my friend, is a miracle. A peanut butter and jelly mission miracle.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:40