I sit up here in bed and it's almost 2am and I have just gotten home...
Normally I was jump right into bed and gain some much needed beauty sleep. But God is stirring and showed me so much tonight...
I was out with a friend in LA for a concert... we decided to keep the evening Dave Ramsey budget friendly and be adventurous and took the Metro.
On the way home, I was reminded of SHIFT Students this past week as we had a prayer and reflection night. One of the stations was entitled, Accept the Challenge. You were encouraged to take a strip of paper. The paper contained a challenge for us to act out over the next week or month- I have begun mine. That which I won't share... but that challenge reminds me of the challenges that we face as Christ-followers day to day.
I think one of the challenges we face... not as in difficulties... but as in one of the things Christ asks of us is to sit and listen. To be still. As my life has been changing and the direction God is leading me over the past few weeks, I feel I have been more aware of seeing God in lots of little moments.
I think that we are called not only to be still and listen to God... but we are called to listen to God's people. To see that sometimes people just need us to listen to them and only speak when necessary and sometimes to speak without words, like through a smile or a handshake.
We stood there on the platform at Union Station just past midnight and there was this "couple". You heard this woman quietly singing to the man she was with... most people wouldn't notice this woman or would just write her off or ignore that she was singing... But I listened closely and she was singing a worship song... and then another one. I couldn't help but feel God's presence in that moment.
Travelling as two single woman, past midnight through LA can be very scary. I am very aware of my surroundings- especially after getting my black belt, traveling abroad with a team, travel safety classes, and migrating around the East Coast on my own for a few summers doing missions... but nonetheless I couldn't help but feel safe and protected in that moment by the simpleness of a woman quietly singing. My friend and I just smiled at each other and just felt blessed by that little moment as we boarded the train.
I feel as if I was aware of God's protection and aware that he would keep us safe and bless us on this journey home.
As we sat within the small train car, a man with a bike sat across from us and began to eat. We kindly smiled and said hello.
If you know me... I am extremely introverted with strangers or people I have just met or haven't found a connection with. Like it scares me to death... but courage and boldness only takes a few seconds and could be life changing... a simple smile or hello can really glorify God as I break outside of my shy shell. Once I know someone... or feel comfortable and or have found something to relate to them with, a common ground... I can be like the friendliest person you've ever met. But until that point, I am a shy and awkward human being.
But God has been stirring my heart lately and asking me to step out and be bold and to take leaps of faith. So we said hello and smiled at this man and he just began talking with us- just began sharing his story and his testimony.
It was amazing- I felt God's tug to acknowledge him and we just listened.
So I ask you to pray for my new friend Ernie.
Ernie is going through a divorce. He lives in Arcadia and works in Redondo Beach... he takes the bus, to the train, to another train, and then bikes to work. Typically it takes him 3-5 hours for this commute. The other day it took him 7 hours. Ernie will get home around 2am... only to turn around 5 hours later and began the same commute back to work. Ernie works at a fish market and loves his job. He believes his interactions with people glorify God- to share a kindness with a stranger. Often times he says people have such a scowl look on the train and he was shout out hello and say God Bless you to people. Ernie was involved in a gang and managed to get out at the age of 19 and find Christ. He commutes 5 days a week to his job and loves it because he loves to use his gift with people. We talked about sharing God's love with others, especially youth. He thought I was a high school or early college student. Flattered I told him I work with youth and I shared a little about my time in Haiti. We talked about the hospitality of people in other places, and lack of it in Los Angeles. He said his days are long and exhausting and his hands get tore up from cutting fish open- but he couldn't be mad because God has just blessed him with a .75cents raise.
He attempted to take a quick nap and we offered to hold his bike and wake him up at our station stop.
It was a pleasure talking with him and just feeling like God wanted us to share our heart for Christ and others, but to just listen to Ernie and show him kindness and compassion.
We shook hands and exchanged names and he invited us to visit him some time and he'd treat us to lunch...
I want to go visit- to make the commute to Redondo Beach and meet Ernie again- I feel that encouraged and blessed... anyone with me?!
But that's besides my point...
Best of all- Ernie was eating his dinner on the train and he offered us some. We declined. He told us that when he leaves work, he will leave with several bags of food (nice prepared dinners) and take them on the train and give them to homeless people that he encounters. How amazing is that?!
Will you join me in praying for Ernie? For his commute, for his heart for God, for him to have the strength and energy through this commute... even though he says he would never trade living closer because of the people he encounters in the process... please pray for Ernie's family through this divorce. He has one daughter at Glendora High who is graduating.
My prayer is that we begin to interact with those around us, if God is tugging at our heart. Be safe and smart about it- but begin to ask God when we encounter each day... ask who would He like us to encounter, talk with, bless, or just listen to... sometimes it's just a simple, hello or smile in passing...
I remember in college someone remembering my name, smiling at me, and asking how I was doing and I felt there sincerity... I still think about it to this day and that was almost 7 or 8 years ago.
The person could be some at your church, someone at a train station, someone in line at the bank or at a concert, or maybe someone in your life that you've been neglecting... I encourage us to be bold and be willing to listen...
Do you accept the challenge???