The year was 2000 and our church had just undertaken an amazing act of faith; we purchased an old school building. Built in 1924, it served as the High School in our community for many years. Later, it became a middle school; in the year 2000, the school placed it for sale, and by God’s provision; we bought it!
We began to renovate the building, a little at a time, but the task was daunting. As we went about the work of renovating the building, we also went about the work of renovating the hearts of people as well.
We developed a food ministry, and outreach center, along with a variety of ministries aimed at helping g the poor and disenfranchised.
Over the course of the next few years, we met dozens of wonderful people; many of whom came to a saving knowledge of Jesus. The folks we encountered were interesting, to say the least!
One of the folks I was privileged to know, was a gentleman named Brad. He was a tall, lanky man, about 65 years old at the time. He would frequent our center, stopping in several times each week.
Brad was a pleasant man; witty with a wry sense of humor. He was a chain smoker, and chose to live outside, under a bridge during the summer months. He would stop in my office and chat endlessly about everything!
I had a large comfortable, cloth chair, in my office that Brad’s thin, gangly frame would disappear into as he chatted. The chair would retain the “essence” of Brad, long after he left. It was during this time that I learned of the blessing of Febreeze air freshener spray!
As time progressed, I found myself cutting short some of my visits with Brad; not wanting my office overly saturated with the scent of stale cigarettes and campfire smoke.
Sometimes I would see him sauntering down the hall toward my office and I would quickly meet him in the hall; feigning some work project, I needed to get to!
One day, the phone rang in my office and it was one of the wealthiest people in our community. He previously owned a large manufacturing center in our area and was a multi-millionaire! The conversation went something like this . . .
“Hi Rock, this is **** and I would love to come and talk to you about your building, I have some great ideas that may interest you and your church, can I stop down next Tuesday morning and see you?” I was stunned and said, “I would love to meet.”
Over the weekend, my head was spinning. One of the wealthiest men in our community was coming to see me; I wondered what he wanted. I wondered if he would want to help us renovate; with one stroke of the pen, he could cover the entire cost of the project, with room to spare!
Monday came, and I looked at my office and realized how dirty it was. I figured I had better give it a good cleaning, since I was going have a very important meeting the next morning; a meeting that could alter the direction of our church renovation project immensely!
I got a bucket of warm soapy water, a scrub brush and a couple of rags. I got on my knees to wipe the dust off the baseboard. As I was scrubbing, I got the sensation the Lord was nearby.
I continued to scrub and I felt the Lord ask me a simple question; “Rock, what are you doing?” With a little excitement, I began to share that a very important man was stopping by the next day; perhaps he would help finance our project!
There was a moment of silence; I was waiting for some indication that God was listening; perhaps He would help persuade this wealthy man. As I waited for His response, I felt Him ask another question; it was a simple one, and it changed my life.
He asked; “So Rock, how is it that you would clean your office for this very wealthy man, but you never even swept it for Brad?” I was undone, busted if you will! Still on my knees, scrub brush in my hand, tears began to splash in the bucket.
I stopped cleaning, emptied my bucket, and spent most of the day repenting of my foolishness, reminded of the passage of scripture in Matthew . . .
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
God helped me to see that my motives were askew; revealing that I was more interested in financial support, than I was for the soul of kind old man.
A couple of years later, Brad moved from our area; he stopped to see me before he left. He brought me two antique oil lamps; a gift thanking me for spending time with him. Those lamps meant more to me than anything the other man could have ever done.
Oh, by the way, I did meet with the wealthy man; we had a pleasant, albeit short meeting. He wanted to turn our center into a museum . . . go figure!
God is great; I love Him so much! The lessons He teaches last a lifetime!