My Father is Always at His Work
In John 5:17, Jesus says to his disciples, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” Since joining Lifepath Christian Ministries and taking over the York Economy Store, I have never been more convinced of this truth. I have seen God work in some amazing and tangible ways over the past 9 months. But none is more amazing than an experience I had last month.
On Tuesday, April 11th, an elderly gentleman came to our loading dock with a note in his hand from his wife. His wife had written down the name of the place where she wanted him to go – “The Goodwill.” After holding back a few chuckles, I explained that he was at the York Rescue Mission, which is now called Lifepath, and told him a little bit about our ministry. He asked if we accepted hospital beds as donations. My initial thought was oh no! I had gotten one or two hospital beds in prior to this. First, they are extremely heavy and not very fun to move. Second, we usually just recycle the metal and scrap the rest since they typically are not in good condition and no longer function properly. I felt somewhat better about this one after he explained that he had recently purchased the bed for his wife while she recovered from hip replacement surgery, and that the bed was practically brand new. I wanted to honor this gentleman who was very kind and appreciative of what we do, so I agreed to accept his donation. I scheduled one of our trucks to pick up the bed from his residence on Thursday, April 13th.
The bed arrived at the store on the morning of April 13th. My first instinct was to scrap it as it looked very complicated to assemble and I could not be sure if it worked properly if I did not put it together. However, I sensed something, or Someone, inside of me telling me to keep the bed. Ignoring my instincts, I made the decision to put it on a cart, roll it onto the elevator, and take it up to our furniture department on the second floor. I grabbed one of my men and proceeded to see if we could get this thing set up and working. To my joy and amazement, we had the bed set-up and working flawlessly within 30 minutes.
Now I had to decide how much we could sell the bed for. This is an important decision as we rely on sales from our Economy Stores to help fund many of our programs. A quick search of the manufacturers website revealed that the bed was still a current model and retails for $1,767.50. The actual selling price found online ranged anywhere from $900-$1200. Needless to say I was in shock. I could not believe the generosity of this donor who would just give us this bed rather than trying to recover some of his investment. Surely, I thought this is what Jesus meant when he told us to store up treasures in heaven.
I immediately knew that none of our customers would be able to afford the bed. I also knew, or thought I knew, that there was little or no demand for a hospital bed. Not one person had called me or come in to the store since I’ve been manager to ask if we had any hospital beds. I thought about possibly listing it on Craigslist or eBay so that we could maximize its value. I was really not sure what to do with it. So I decided to just leave it be for now and planned to revisit the issue later in the day when I had the time. And this is where God showed up!
No more than 15 minutes later, I caught sight of an older woman making her way back toward my office. She was using a walker and moving very slowly. As she approached I could see that she was struggling to breathe. And then, she asked me a question that I will never forget. She asked, “Do you have any hospital beds?” At first, I thought, this surely has to be a set-up. I reasoned there was no way this could have just happened. Someone must have told her about the bed I thought. But then I realized there was no way she could have known about the bed. She was not in the store when I took it up the elevator and she could not have seen the bed on the second floor since there was no way she could have gone up the steps. It was then that I realized that God had orchestrated this whole thing. My Father was at work!
She proceeded to tell me that she had congestive heart failure and needed a hospital bed to sleep on. Her landlord had recently removed the hospital bed from the apartment she was renting and she was now forced to sleep on a recliner. She desperately wanted the bed and asked me for a price. Of course, I had just tried to delay the issue and now I was being forced to make a decision. Hoping to avoid answering her question, I suggested we go upstairs so she could see the bed and decide if it would meet her needs. If it would not, I was off the hook I thought. But of course, God had other plans. After seeing the bed, she declared that it would be perfect for her and again asked me for a price. Now what do I do? I knew the bed was selling for $900-$1200 online, but surely she could not afford that I thought. Wanting to help her, I decided to set the price at $550 and explained that price was approximately one half of the current resale value online. She became very dejected as that amount represented about 60% of her monthly social security check which was her sole source of income.
With that she began to head back toward the elevator resigned to the fact that she would not be able to get the bed. That is when God really started to work on me. I started to see that if I let her walk out of the store without that bed, I would be interfering with His plan. He had orchestrated this whole thing. Who was I to get in His way? I would have to be completely oblivious to how He was working in this situation if I allowed her to walk out of that store empty handed.
So I asked her to wait for a few minutes while I went to my office and prayed. I knew what God’s answer would be before I even closed the door. He reminded me that we recently changed our name to LifePath Christian Ministries. And that we exist to help people experience life transformation in all areas of life- emotionally, physically, and spiritually. He had given me the power to help transform this woman’s life and I was determined that I was not going to let her leave the store without that bed.
I called her into my office and told her that Lifepath was going to donate the bed and that we would also deliver it to her home at no charge. To say she went into a state of shock would be to put it mildly. She never dreamed that we would donate a like new hospital bed that we could have easily sold for several hundred dollars. We exchanged hugs and a few tears. She thanked me from the bottom of her heart and told me how much this was going to improve her life. And while I appreciated her gratitude, I reminded her that God had orchestrated all of this. And that I was only an instrument in His hands who was carrying out His will that she should have this bed.
I don’t think I shall ever forget that day. It was a reminder to me that my Father is always at work. The question is do we see where God is working and will we join Him in that work? Or are we too consumed with our own agenda and purposes that we miss the opportunity He gives us every day to share in His Kingdom work. Thankfully this time at least, I did not miss the blessing that God had for me on this day.
Author: Dave Cook – Director of Development and Community Outreach for LifePath Christian Ministries and Manager of the York Economy Store