Story of Wonder
We learn in 1 Chronicles 16 that telling stories of God’s goodness and giving thanks was at the center of Hebrew worship. The Israelites set aside time to practice gratitude within their worship by speaking of God’s mighty deeds and remembering his blessings, wonderful works, and faithfulness.
We ask folks in our community to share their Stories of Wonder at our public worship. These are stories of God working in our midst, speaking, leading, and providing for his people. This gives us an opportunity to recognize and rejoice in God’s powerful deeds, and it also trains us to pay attention to how God might be at work in our own lives. This one is from Daniel.
There are times that you do things but wonder about the impact they are having. Days, weeks, months, sometimes years go by and you’re just unsure. But you keep doing them because, even though its hard to explain, deep down you believe they are worth it.
Then there are times when a radiant flash of worth and meaning is unveiled. The curtain is pulled back and you can see the road to glory, a momentary glimpse of Kingdom come, a thrill of hope and the weary world rejoices. This past Tuesday was one of those times.
I met Isaac (or Chihuahua as we affectionately call him) a little over 2 years ago out on 14th street. Chihuahua is a small statured man, humble and always respectful, who spends a majority of his days combing the streets and back alleys of downtown Miami filling plastic bags with aluminum cans so that he can recycle them in order to earn a little extra cash in order to make it through. He’s always talking about his cats, he has 6 of them…
Despite his humble circumstances, having been laid off from the Miami Herald once technology advanced and the idea of holding a physical copy of the newspaper became somewhat obsolete, Chihuahua is always so cheerful, so encouraging, and so faithful. I can’t remember a Tuesday night were he wasn’t already there waiting for us when we arrived downtown- excited to see us, excited to say hello, excited to share a meal together.
A few weeks back I got a phone call from Gabby (the true hero in this story) about an organization whose sole purpose is to reunite people living on the streets with their families. So we made the announcement that following Tuesday asking if anybody was interested in giving it a shot. Chihuahua was the first one to respond. He hasn’t seen a majority of his family for several decades. If I’m honest, I wasn’t quite sure it was going to work. Even as I held the iPhone in my hand recording my friends message to his long lost family, there was doubt in my heart. Was this really going to work?
And then it happened. Last Saturday night I got this frantic voicemail from Gabby that I needed to call her back IMMEDIATELY. When I did the first words out of her mouth were “We found them! We found them!”. After all these years Chihuahua’s family had seen his video and in a tidal wave of love had sent back over a half dozen videos from several parts of the country. The common thread in all the videos- “We love you, we miss you, we want you back in our lives.”
Friday night Chihuahua’s youngest sister Lupe, who he hasn’t seen in nearly 40 years, arrived from North Carolina to pick him up and take him to be reunited with the rest of his family. His mother, other siblings, nephews and nieces, all awaiting; some of which he has never even met.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see Chihuahua again. I scribbled my name, number, and email address on a little sheet of paper for him hoping to stay in contact. But in the end it doesn’t really matter. I rest assured knowing that he is being watched over by a loving Father, surrounded by his family now; he once was lost but now is found. And in my heart, where doubt existed, faith has been restored.
I see Jesus all over this story. His relentless love and pursuit of us no matter where we are or how long it has been. His amazing grace and heart won’t stop coming after us. And I am very proud to be part of a community, a group of people that, as Chihuahua himself said, “give a dang.”