There are so many things I've been given throughout my life from the people who have inhabited it with me. Among them are a rich repository of expressions. My family background includes forebears who lived close to the earth as sharecroppers, and those who spent long hours in cotton mills. Then there are those who sowed their colorful language into my vocabulary from my jobs as a ditch digger, surveyor's helper, Coca Cola driver, warehouse worker...
One of those phrases popped into my head last night, but the setting it dropped into stood the meaning I had traditionally associated with it on it's head.
"When It Rains, It Pours"
Every time before last night, I had used that in conjunction with a series of reverses - of trouble piled on trouble.
But last night all that changed.
Because when it rains, it can also pour blessing after blessing.
It was the tail end of a long day of my bifurcated life. I had poured myself out to 15 children all day and rushed home to rush to church. Wednesday just is a marathon. When I arrived at church to manage the food distribution and make sure the meals for our New Hope folks were served, I was quickly surrounded by people who helped - well really, I was also blessed by those who had ALREADY helped - like my awesome wife Bunny who had cooked for 90 people, and Christi Moore who had purchased the ingredients and laid out all the take-out trays.
Then Patrick Calvary and Taylor Bryan came in to deliver the meals. What a blessing! These young men have plenty of other things to do, but they chose to serve the needy in Valparaiso. We're pushing 70 meals a week now.
A few minutes later a flood of kids rushed in and filled the fellowship hall. A few minutes later one of them, Kelly, came to me crying and showing me a bloody toe. She had somehow gotten hit by the door. We started tending to her and she kept saying "I don't want to go home. I don't want to go home. All my friends are here." Kelly took literally years to warm up to us - didn't talk at all for the longest time - but now we're all family.
After worship practice, I hurried back over to the fellowship hall and was handed an envelope that Patrick and Taylor had been handed during their deliveries. One of the people we deliver to gave it to them. The front of the envelope said "The Lord's Money" and on the back she had written a note of encouragement. It was filled with money. Wow.
Having God provision that ministry through that ministry was encouragement enough.
People wonder why New Hope goes out into tough places.
People whisper about whether we'll be able to continue to feed more people than we see in worship on some Sundays.
People see the developmentally disabled welcomed and valued and shake their heads.
People marvel at how we thrill at having rougher neighborhood kids at New Hope.
Friends, if you want sanitized, predictable, programmed religion, you don't want New Hope.
But if you want to be so close to God's heart that you can hear it beat in the heart of a child, or in the least of these...
If you want to MATTER in the work of bringing God's love to bear on man's needs...
New Hope is the place.
When it rains here, it pours out God's grace.