Friday, November 23, 2012

Be Like Jeffrey: Thanking God Despite Circumstances by Tara Hall

I hope you all are having a great Thanksgiving! I love how this season reminds us that no matter what is going on in our lives, there is always a reason to be thankful. My sister, Tara, is here to share some of her thoughts on this, as well as a recent encounter she experienced with a homeless person.
Living in New York City, you see the most interesting people, to say the least. But recently, I have noticed the massive collision of those who "have it all" and those who "have absolutely nothing." Just by walking down one single block, you can count on seeing both of these types of people.
I’d like to tell you about one of my most recent friends, Jeffery. I guess you could say he is one who "has absolutely nothing." At least that is what I assumed about him at first glance… but I was proven dead wrong. Jeffery caught the attention of many the other day on our first snow day of the season by walking down the street barefoot on the Upper West Side. Being stubborn yet polite, he would immediately decline the offer of any stranger who wanted to buy him a pair of shoes. “No thank you. I’m fine. I’m fine.” He would say while walking away, until suddenly one guy showed up who went ahead and bought some for Jeffery, along with a pair of thick socks. This is the time Jeffery finally gave in, sat down, and put them on with a massive smile across his face. “You have to promise me two things if I give you these,” said the guy who bought them. “1) You cannot sell them and 2) you have to actually wear them.” Jeffery just shook his head in agreement, and the generous guy soon went on his way.
But I couldn’t just yet. The sight of all that was going on had stopped me dead in my tracks. It looked so beautiful outside, but these same gorgeous snow flakes were causing the people who "have absolutely nothing" to freeze. And how could someone so desperate repeatedly turn down the offer of help, but when it was right in their face, gladly accept? I felt compelled to do more for him and after I did some begging, Jeffery finally agreed to go to the diner on the next block so my roommate and I could treat him to a hot meal. After some strange looks, the waiter finally sat this odd looking party of 3 at a large booth. Jeffery, looking around worriedly, warned us that he may be kicked out because he didn’t “look nice”… but he never was.
I’ll never forget the conversations we shared for those 45 minutes. It was mostly a lot of listening on mine and my roommate's part, and the rest was Jeffery talking about his past and experiences. We learned he was in the military, he has two children living in Georgia, he was divorced, and he talked about his experience on September 11, 2001 while being homeless. Somewhere between all of this is when we realized his indescribable joy. His compassion. His determination. His strength… each and every day when he wakes up and before he finds a place to “lay his head,” he recites Psalm 23. His other favorite scripture is Psalm 91. He carries a small dilapidated Bible in a plastic bag inside of his shirt every single day. It is his only possession besides the thin, worn out clothing on his back (and his new leather boots!)… but yet his joy was so evident. He was beaming with gladness! That is when we quickly realized that this "have absolutely nothing" actually "has it all"… all that really matters and is truly necessary to live a life of fulfillment.
"I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances.I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry,hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am." 
~Philippians 4:12
After finishing most of his meal (and taking the leftovers to go), Jeffery thanked us over and over for everything. “Man, I never would have thought this would have happened when I woke up today! You girls made my year! This has never happened to me! People give me food all the time, but no one has ever sat with me to eat it.” This was my first time ever taking the time to do exactly this, but I can boldly say it will not be my last. Jeffery made a huge impression on my heart that snowy day that will never ever go away… no matter what your circumstance, every single one of us can be the type of person that "has it all."
"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name's sake,.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

~Psalm 23
Visit Tara's blog
"Anchored With Love".
Thanks for sharing your story with us!
If you'd like to share
what God's been doing in your life,
click here for details.

(I'm on a blogging break for Thanksgiving and will return Dec. 3rd.)

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tara,
    I think this is the most inspiring story I've ever read. Because all I hear is how everything is so dangerous... and yet, all Jesus told us to do is to love, to hear stories and simply do what you did and give with what we have, who we are, simply be; allow Jesus to love and live and work through us. That's what you did.


Thanks for stopping by my blog!