Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Feeling overwhelmed when you want to make a difference

I'll be at the Decatur Book Festival this weekend speaking and signing books around 3:20 on Sunday. I'd love to see any of you who live in the area.

My husband likes to tell the story about a man who discovers a little boy on the beach throwing back into the ocean the sand dollars that had washed ashore. The man asks the boy why he’s even bothering since there are so many he couldn’t possibly save them all. “What you're doing doesn’t make any difference,” the man says.


The little boy throws another sand dollar into the ocean and declares, “I've made a difference for that one.”

I am often overwhelmed by the homelessness that confronts me every day. When shelters close during the summer in our community, those without permanent addresses take to street corners in droves to ask for money from passing motorists.

There is no one reason they’re homeless. Most have legitimate needs. A few are working an angle.  One person cannot possibly help them all, and I’m often perplexed as to what to do. We give monthly to a homeless ministry, but it feels so little to do. It just doesn’t seem I can make a real long term difference.

But one day this summer, as I stopped for a traffic light, I noticed what I thought might be a mother and her physically challenged young adult son.

I couldn’t stop in the road, and when I came back a short time later, they were gone. But I made up my mind, if I ever saw them again, I’d find a way to stop and talk to them.

Two weeks later, I did.

And that began what has been a roller coaster adventure in helping them find a permanent address. It has taken an army of persevering, loving, giving folks to pull this together, but this past weekend, this mother and son opened the door to their own place, where they can reasonably live off their income.

I fight fear about this situation, because there are variables that could quickly make it go south. Sometimes I hold my breath that it might all fall apart. Then I remember the extraordinary things God has done to make this happen.

They needed to pay a utility deposit, which could only be paid by credit card, and of course, they didn't have one. The next person that called me happened to already have a prepaid debit card in just the amount we needed.

We needed an essential personal item, and again, in my next phone call, a friend had what we needed in the right size.

I told another friend where I was going to check out mattresses, and she knew the store manager who gave us a discount. I had no idea there was any connection.

We were giving a woman a ride to a worship service and she just happened to know of a fund that would help us pay for some of the essentials.

This is only a small sampling of the many ways God has provided for this family. There are dozens of others.

It has been my very great privilege to see this process unfold, and I’m thankful to have had a miniscule part in it. My heartfelt thanks to the multitude that came alongside to make this happen.

I am still going to feel overwhelmed as I drive around my community, because there are just so many without homes.

However, somewhere today, there’s one family that doesn’t have to worry about where they’re going to sleep tonight. Like the sand dollar the little boy threw back into the sea, God has helped us make a difference for them.

"Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way" (Colossians 3:17 The Message).



Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing, Bev. Inspiring. Thank God for you. Your life encourages me to press on.

Beverly Varnado said...

Thank you, Paula. Hope to see you soon. Blessings.

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