“I needed clothes and you clothed me.”
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25)
Mary showed up on Friday to work the Clothes Closet at First Baptist El Paso with her close friend Patsy. Working the clothes closet in a downtown church is often a thankless job at best. You have to sort through piles and piles of old discarded clothes to find the treasures among the trash. The simple point of the ministry is to give warm, clean clothes for someone who is struggling to make ends meet.
The truth is “clothes do make the man”–a new outfit helps those who struggle to feel better about themselves and gives them a ” new uniform” to put on as they go out to face the hard difficult world around them. Sadly, for those in this ministry, it is easy for one to feel much more like a clerk at Wal-mart than someone who is changing the world one person at a time.
One this particular morning, Mary felt more like a Wal-mart clerk and wondered in the big scheme of things that her hard work really made a difference at all. In an email to me, Mary wrote:
I was in a desperate need of a hug from God
Little did Mary know what God was up to that morning. One great lesson from this story is how God meets us supernaturally in the routines of our lives.
Being faithful in small things opens us up to great possibilities.
Meanwhile, Sue was struggling in the “valley of the shadow of death.” Her grim assignment this morning was cleaning out the closet of her son Wade who had passed away a few months ago. Loading up his clothes to give away was a heart wrenching experience. The dark reality of Wade’s death settled on her spirit as she folded his jeans and loaded boxes of his shoes.
Isom came to First Baptist looking for help. He was in a hard place in his life and needed the basics of life provided by a caring stranger. He needed clothes to wear and he came to First Baptist looking for help. When he arrived at the church he found Mary and Patsy hard at work sorting clothes. So they began to assist him in his search among the piles. Then the Mary’s phone rang and the church secretary informed her that Sue was at the door needing help unloading some clothes.
Mary left Isom and met Sue at the door to help her bring in a load of jeans and shoes. After Sue left, Mary asked Isom “what size shoes do you wear?” He replied, “10 1/2”–so Mary looked at shoes from the delivery just as might have expected they were “10 1/2.” With a smile Mary pointed Isom toward the pile of shoes and encouraged him to find some that would work for him.
While Isom was working his way through the shoes, Mary held up a pair of 36 x 38 jeans, and asked Isom, “what size jeans do you wear?” Isom replied “36 x 38 ma’am.” Mary smiled and shared that these jeans were just his size. It was at this point that the “hug” from heaven held Mary tight and it dawned on her that she was right in the middle of a divine appointment.
Now fast forward to Friday night at the Cold Stone Creamery. Bud and Sue are out with their friends stopping for ice cream, when I walk in with my wife. I am excited to see them, and I asked Sue–“So what did you think about what happened to Mary today?” She looked at me oddly–it was clear that she had not heard about the divine appointment in the clothes closet. I shared what had happened and tears welled up in her eyes. It had been so hard to turn loose of Wade’s clothes–but now she realized God used her to be a blessing to a young man in need. In a simple way, God reminded her that she was not alone–she experience a gentle “hug” from above.
On Friday night three relative strangers went to bed with warm hearts touched by “hugs” from heaven. Jesus held Mary and reminded her that her service was not in vain. Jesus held Sue and reminded her that she was not alone. Jesus held Isom and reminded him that He had heard his prayer and that His heavenly Father was going to take good care of him.
Never forget–we are not alone
Do you need a hug today!