By Kari Miller
I have been thinking lately about how God tends to show himself among the places we would never expect him to be. Those places that we find dirty, dark and void of goodness. I had an interesting experience this last fall in a homeless shelter in one of the darkest places of Minneapolis.
The first time I visited this homeless shelter, a man was found half dead just outside the door and had to be rushed to the hospital and another man was forcibly removed with his large vodka bottle in hand. I then witnessed a staff at the shelter smash the bottle to smithereens in the middle of the street while cuss words flew like dandelion spores out of the drunkards mouth.
Any outsider would see the darkness and walk away sure that no light could exist in such a wild place, but on the contrary, when I entered the darkness I saw the radiance of Jesus more beautiful than I had ever seen it. Over the last year that homeless shelter has become indeed a wildly beautiful place.
This last fall, I had hurt my neck causing muscle spasms and a huge goose egg just below my right ear. It was painful and I was unable to move my neck in any direction without wincing. When I got to the shelter that evening, I chose a chair in the back of the room where I could sit awkwardly facing the chair beside me while I held my neck. A disabled man in a wheelchair, who I had spent time with several times before, appeared next to me and we struck up our usual conversation.
Shortly after we started talking, he pulled out his Bible and began to tell me how the scriptures were holding him together. God was providing daily food, places for him to stay and he was asking the Lord to now provide a job. My purpose at this shelter is to help encourage these new friends and to help meet their needs, but I was failing miserably as all I could think about was the constant pain in my neck.
As I listened I felt the sudden urge to ask this man to pray for my neck, so I told him that I was in terrible pain and sheepishly asked if he could pray for me. Without a moments hesitation, he reached up and put his hand over the goose egg and began to tell the Lord that he loved him then he simply asked for my neck to be healed. It wasnt a prayer that would ever be recorded for the fluency of the words or for its great eloquence, but it was honest and empathetic.
Almost instantaneously my neck felt relaxed, the pain began to ease and after about a half an hour I had full movement back and no pain! When I realized that the pain I had carried in my neck for two days was completely gone, I was shocked. Was I just healed?
I found him again, hugged him and said, “You healed me.” At that he replied, “No, God healed you. I am just the tool he uses.” He then told me that he had found another man out on the street a couple of days ago in pain with a toothache. He prayed for him and that mans pain was relieved too. We talked for some time and I couldnt quite make sense of the fact that this man had a broken body, but God used him to heal others.
I stared at this man, thinking is it possible that a disabled homeless man called down the beauty of Gods healing for me, the selfish privileged one? It didnt seem just, but then again Gods wildness is never what I expect, it is bizarre and seemingly strange, but it is beautiful. All of a sudden, there was Jesus radiating light in the midst of the darkness.
Kari Miller is a 4th grade teacher who is passionate about loving Jesus and loving others. She longs to inspire others to love the least, the lost and the left out.