On Wednesday, October 17, one week after Hurricane Michael impacted our region, I received a phone call offering meals for disaster relief. As one who is not prone to turn down blessings, I instinctively said “Yes! We’ll take it!” And then I uttered this simple prayer, “Lord, I need your help!”
Immediately, I started reaching out to people I knew working in affected areas.
I reached out to our church family who had relatives in the affected regions.
I called numbers that had been passed on to me from a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend.
Of those who responded, I heard:
“Thanks, but we don’t need any more food. Do you have…..?”
“Gee, I dunno…that’s a lot of food!”
“What is it exactly?”
Last night, 9 days after the initial phone call, we received 82,000 meals for disaster relief. Thank you to everyone who showed up to help unload and also to those who were with us in spirit! (The missionary was able to procure a pallet jack at the last minute which helped our transfer time immensely! A lot of us stood around and watched a few guys work – well, we told them how to do it!)
At the end of the evening, I was asked in front of everyone, “Where is the food going?” My honest response was, “I don’t know yet. That’s what I’m working on tomorrow.”
Now, I’m not a mind reader. I don’t have ESP, much less ESPN, but if I had to guess the sentiments based upon the facial expressions of my faithful flock, I could imagine:
“We want to help, but what’s the plan?”
“What does he do all day? He only works one day a week.”
“He better not make us eat it!”
“This guy’s our leader? He doesn’t have a clue!” (Actually, that one is correct!)
But I know what I was thinking!
“God, what is your plan?”
“I wonder how much my kids will eat before they revolt?”
“Where can I dump these if I need to?
“Who would be a willing accomplice to help me dump it?”
“How many rooms in the church would this inventory take up?”
“What have I done? I don’t have clue!”
I slept well last night. (I found a nice spot to dump the food…just kidding!)
This morning Cindy and I took our meal providers out for breakfast and learned a little bit about them and their ministry. They are such a sweet couple! (WARNING!! Shameless church attendance plug alert!! You’ll meet them on Sunday, November 11th, when they come to share about their ministry and the time she was kidnapped with their son! )
Once we said our good-byes, my panic mode began to settle in. We’ve got phone calls to make! We have to find someone to take this food! I made a couple more phone calls (does anyone answer their phones anymore?!?), and then I decided to sit down and pray.
“God, who would you have me call about this food?”
In my stillness, I thought of a gentleman that I met earlier this year. So I sent him a quick text message (I couldn’t bear another voicemail). I didn’t dare tell him 82,000 meals. He immediately responded and we made plans to meet in just a few minutes.
On the way to church, my mind was racing.
“How many meals can I unload on this guy?”
“I hope he has a truck…maybe he can take a pallet.”
“I’ve got to play this cool. Sell the vitamins and nutrients of the food.”
“If he only wants 5 boxes, make sure he leaves with 6 or 7 boxes.”
“Who else can I call?”
I pull up to the church and I see a truck! Excitedly, I get out of my car…my hands are starting to sweat…my heart is beating…I feel like I’m getting ready to pull off a heist…and trying to muster a normal voice say, “Hi Glenn, how are you doing today?”
We walk to the enormous monster yellow truck in the driveway, and he says, “The food’s in here?”
Fearfully, I replied “Yes.”
With my eyes closed, I opened the door to reveal the contents. This is the moment of truth.
“I’ll take it all.”
Instinctively I said, “Let me show you what it is.” (Did I really just give him chance to change his mind?)
I marched him inside the Fellowship Hall so he could examine the delicacy, to which he said,
“This is perfect! There are so many people in the area that have been affected by Hurricane Michael either directly or indirectly. We haven’t received any food shipments for over 2 weeks because it’s being diverted to the heavily damaged areas. We have needy families in surrounding areas that have been overlooked in storm relief efforts. I was just praying about this this morning! This is a direct answer to prayer! This is manna from heaven!”
The truck left tonight for a trip – across town. They already have the infrastructure to accommodate the counties we are trying to reach! In fact, those areas are coming to get the food tomorrow!
God is good…so very good!
I guess my lesson for today is that we’re not necessarily supposed to be strategic planners because that would be us planning and then asking God to bless our agenda.
I believe we are to be responsive planners – listening and responding to God’s voice and instructions as we engage in building His Kingdom. We’re to trust Him even when we don’t have all the details worked out. It’s a little nerve wracking, but very faith stretching!
It’s been said, “Where God guides, God provides.” But today, I also learned that “Where God provides, God guides.”
BONUS PRAISE – They unloaded it!