Nearly two Saturdays ago, I took my kids to a birthday celebration at Chic-Fil-A. As I pulled into west entrance of the plaza, I noticed a shopping cart filled with belongings parked in the corner. In front of the shopping cart, there strategically stood a handwritten sign. The sign was propped against the shopping cart and positioned for all to read. It said, “We are homeless. But God loves us.”
To the natural mind, the statement is such an oxymoron. How could one be so confident in God’s love in a state of homelessness? How could one be so sure of God’s love that he felt the need to share it despite the severity of his situation? How could this be?
I began to ponder the possibilities in my head. But instantly, the Holy Spirit provided me with this insight, “He has an intimate perspective.”
The words “intimate” immediately struck a chord with me. For, developing an intimate relationship with God has been a continual journey within the women’s ministry at church. I was curious to know how a simple sign correlated to such a complex and vital topic. This is what I’ve learned……
Intimacy is about maintaining God’s perspective.
“We are homeless. But God loves us.”
The individual who wrote this sign was living on the street and all his material possessions were contained in the back of a shopping cart. To me and everyone else, he was at the lowest of the low. He was sleeping outside amongst the elements. Yet, in still, he wanted to share the hope of God’s love with people who drive their cars past him every day and go home to shelter every evening. To the homeless individual, it was not just about being homeless. It was about having a different perspective.
To maintain perspective, we must stay close to God……
Transparently, the past two weeks have been tough. I think I’ve cried almost every day. My emotions began to get the best of me. I was all out of whack. My stress and anxiety level were high. My perspective was off. And to add injury to insult, I couldn’t master this flat twist out tutorial that I found on Pinterest. I was on edge. I could not focus or see clearly.
Once I dried my tears, calmed my mind and spirit, I realized this: Lately, my time with God was more of an afterthought rather than a priority.
I’m not, in any way, negating my human emotions. It’s normal to cry and to feel out of sorts. But this sign had a purpose. It was reminding me that at some point, I need to reach beyond the consumption of my natural emotions into a spiritual strength and insight that is only obtained through connection with God.
I couldn’t maintain God’s perspective because I wasn’t close to Him. Notice the word choice. “I wasn’t close to Him.” God’s word confirms that He will never leave us or forsakes us. We, however, can walk away from God. It’s likened to what I teach my children’s church kids. Your actions or inability to act can either take you farther away from God or draw you closer to him.
James 4:8 states, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to us!”
Drawing near to God, draws everything about God (His character, His love, His joy, His peace, His wisdom, His confidence, His perspective) to us.
I had to stop and say, “God I feel like I’m drowning! I’m overwhelmed! I feel insecure! I feel like a failure! I don’t know what to do! I need you to walk with me moment by moment…step by step…day by day…. I can’t do this without you!!”
(Insert the old school, Baptist church mother’s acapella rendition of I Need Thee! “I Need Thee. Ohhhhhh I need thee. Every hourrrrrrrr I need Thee….”)
Sadly, we’ve all seen countless homeless signs before. But no sign has struck me the way this one did.
We are homeless. But God loves us!
I believe that the individual who wrote this sign had some sort of perspective—an inside perspective that wasn’t based on his outer circumstances. He never asked for anything. He simply made a statement about his current reality and ended with perspective.
How many times do we make statements about our realities but fail to follow up with perspective? Guilty! (with two hands raised in the air)
The gentleman was saying, “Yes, my situation appears bleak! But the love of God is with me! And because I have the love of God, I have hope! I have a promise! I have a future far greater than this parking lot and shopping cart! There is MORE TO LIFE!! It’s only a matter of time!!!”
Romans 8:35 & 37 states, “ Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 3….. 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.”
For us to have a different perspective, God’s perspective, we must make it a priority to remain connected to Him. And I’m not specifically referring to spending 5 hours in a prayer closet wrapped in a burlap sack cloth and ashes. (No shade whatsoever!! There is nothing wrong with that. I’m just saying that everybody is not able to do that.)
It starts with the moment we open our eyes in the morning. “Lord, thank you for this day. I am Yours and You are mine! Walk with me. Talk with me. Anoint me afresh.”
Or the whispers of your heart while at work, “Lord, I need You!”
Or the secret cries of your heart, “Lord, I feel like I can’t go on. Be my light. Be my strength.”
Or the screams of deliverance, “Help me not punch somebody in the face or lose my salvation today!!”
I need a consistently, intimate relationship with God. I can’t survive this life or be effective in this world without Him. Connection with God helps to guard our hearts. Connection with God helps to secure our vision and keeps ups grounded! Connection with God allows me to maintain a perspective beyond my current reality!
Intimacy is about believing and receiving God’s love.
Think about the intimacy found in genuinely, successful friendships or marital relationships. To be truly intimate, you must believe that the person has your best interest at heart. To extend the entirety of your being, you must trust them and be confident in their love for you. The same principles apply to God. To be sincerely vulnerable with Him…absolutely naked…to tell him everything…to let him into every crevice and corner of our lives… we must believe and acknowledge His love for us. Without a shadow of doubt, I must know that His overall intentions for me and His plans for my life are good!
This makes me think back to 13 years ago when my husband and I first started dating. (Just typing 13 years makes my eyeballs expand. Where has the time gone?) The first 7 months or so of our relationship was long distance. He was in Miami and I was all the way in Tulsa completing my senior year of college. We would talk for hours. Even if my day was horrible, simply hearing Jelani’s voice made all things better. I would speak with him in the morning, during my afternoon break, and for hours on end at night. We would have intense conversations about family, friends, our relationship with God, dreams, hopes, fears and our future together. Other times, we would discuss trivial things like what we ate for lunch, random things that occurred at his job, or how someone stole my labeled Pillsbury chocolate chip cookie dough from the dorm refrigerator and left the empty wrapper.
Even though I’ve never been a night person, I’d stay on the phone until 2AM and talk with him while he worked the graveyard shift.
He’d say, “Babe, are you asleep?”
I’d lie and say, “No, I’m awake!!”
He’d listen to me breathe and maybe even snore for a while. Then, eventually, he would encourage me to go to sleep. I’d reluctantly consent and hang up the phone. Although we weren’t physically together, we were inseparable. Why? Because we were in constant communication. Our hearts and minds were in sync. We had a genuine connection. We were in lovvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeee….lol!
Certainly, Jelani’s love for me cannot be denied. God’s love cannot be compared to human love. But God’s love for me is far greater, far more powerful, far more cleansing than my husband’s love for me. God’s love is consistent and not circumstantial. God’s love will never fail me. God’s love can never disappoint me. God’s love is secure. God’s love never runs out and never gives up on me. God’s love reaches beyond every fault and sees every need. Every time I miss a mark or make a mistake, God’s love and grace is standing right there. God’s love screams to me, “Dust yourself off! Get back on the right track! Let’s try it again!”
God’s love is so undeserved. Although I will never be able to comprehend the depths of His love, I MUST believe that it exists and truly receive it to be intimate with God.
One day, the Lord said something so profound to me. He said, “You don’t value communication with me because you don’t believe in the power of it. You don’t tell me everything or include me in all aspects of your life because You don’t trust me. You can’t be truly intimate with Me if you don’t trust My capabilities or intentions towards you. “
If we truly believe and trust in the matchless power of God’s love for us…if we would earnestly receive His love, we would be running to commune with Him. We would include Him in everything. We would talk with Him for hours on end – even about the smallest things. Why? Because the realization and consumption of His love draws us to intimacy. His love is the only guarantee we have in life!!!! We can’t guarantee that our spouses will be there or that our friends won’t abandon us. We can’t guarantee that our children will always act right. We can’t guarantee our jobs, our homes, or our bank accounts. We can’t even guarantee our next breath or what tomorrow will hold. But God’s love is DEFINITE and will always stand the test of time. There is NOTHING that can disqualify or separate us from His love.
Paul writes in Romans 8:38 “ And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
We must be just as confident of God’s love as the individual who wrote that sign.
“We are homeless! But God loves us!!”
I don’t think that it was mere coincidence that this sign caught my eye that day. I use that entrance at least once per week and have previously glimpsed that cart. But until that Saturday, I had never taken the time to read it. There was something deeper here that God wanted me to see and to, in turn, share with you…
Wherever you are in your relationship with God, He’s waiting for you. He’s waiting for You to acknowledge Him. He wants you to be confident in His love for you. He wants you to give Him more of You…… more time….. more space…more connection…more conversation.
He’s waiting to take you to a place of intimate perspective………..