This homeless man believes. Can you believe, too?

Can we believe

Now his eyes are really lighting up.

Lunch is almost over, served by beautiful Methodists who volunteer for this rotation spot in November every year. The line is tapering off, mainly only stragglers remain, stuffing extra hot dogs in their backpacks or in plastic bags for their afternoon back on the road.

Susan has finished eating. She is waiting on Cowboy to walk together back to their tent.

But Cowboy is still talking. We’ve been chatting for several minutes about this, about that.

Yet now it’s taking a turn. I can feel it. I lean in closer for what’s about to come.

Cowboy takes me back to 2004. He didn’t know where to go next, so he prays to God and flips a coin. Heads: he goes to Huntsville. Tails: he goes to Gadsden. (Thank you, God, for heads.)

As we stand here together now as friends for several years, I listen to more of what Cowboy tells me.

What Cowboy tells me is how good God has been and how God continues to guide him. 

Really?

I know chunks of Cowboy’s story. I know after living homeless in Huntsville for several years, he and Susan finally got into housing a year ago, praise God.

But I also know they’re now homeless again after a guest spent the night in their apartment with a pet, a non-negotiable in their housing complex.

Yet Cowboy keeps smiling today and tells me more about God.

With excitement, he says this is next: he’s going to build a chapel in the camp. His homeless camp. The one that’s called the jungle because it’s so rough.

He says he’s learned to be careful about what he asks because he knows God will answer. God always has given him what he wants, he says, this man who lives homeless in the jungle.

And he’s asking God to help him build a chapel to minister to others who live alongside him.

His chapel will be outlined with the slats of pallets that make their way into homeless camps. He has strips of red carpet to use on the inside. He wants to build a pulpit. He’s already picked out the site.

You really see all this, Cowboy?

Yes, he tells me, he really does.

So I believe him. Because I know he’s right: God is that big.

Cowboy has purpose. His life has meaning. And because of that, he puts up with more inconveniences and discomforts than I can ever, ever, ever imagine.

And he continues to dream and plan and minister, right where he is, just as he is, disabilities and handicaps and limitations included.

What about us? When we believe there is meaning behind it, aren’t we more content, too? Even when things don’t go our way, don’t we keep moving forward if we’re on a mission? When we believe there is purpose, don’t we trust God to overcome the barriers?

We do when we believe. If we believe.

Believe that each of our lives has meaning. That God wastes nothing.

  • No experience is wasted.
  • No pain is wasted.
  • No connection is wasted.

And not a single person is wasted.

God knows how to use it all. He can place every piece together to create something fruitful, something to help us love each other better.

That’s what Cowboy is doing.

He’s taking the raw materials he’s found and the skills he’s honed and the faith he’s grown, and he’s dedicating them to God for a higher purpose: to love other people.

It’s the grand purpose for each of us: To embrace the love God gives us, and lavish it back on others. Whatever our circumstances. In plenty or hunger. In abundance or need. It’s living proof of the truth of Philippians 4:11-13.

We just need to believe.

  • Believe there is purpose.
  • Believe there is good.
  • Believe there is God.

If Cowboy can do it, so can we.

Thank you, Cowboy. My time with you is never wasted.

* * *

Who is teaching you contentment? Who shows you real faith? Please share in the comments.

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35 thoughts on “This homeless man believes. Can you believe, too?

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Joanne. Cowboy is a very special person to me so I’m happy to share his wisdom here with those who will never get to meet him in person. I’ve learned more from him than he could ever imagine. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving too!

  1. blankLisha Eperson

    Hi Lisa! This point is the crux if the matter – “And he continues to dream and plan and minister, right where he is, just as he is, disabilities and handicaps and limitations included.” May we all live this way. Right where we are, just as we are. Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      I agree, Lisha—we need to stop making excuses for ourselves and just live out the next step in front of us, however small or weak we think we are to do so. God provides. Blessed Thanksgiving to you too!

  2. blankCeil

    Hi Lisa! We just never know when or where God will ‘light it up’, do we? We are all to be lights to each other, and that means EVERYONE. Even a homeless, poor man. After all, isn’t that who Jesus was?

    His plan is huge. His faith matches perfectly his plans, and I hope that it will come to pass. What a symbol it will be to those with so much more in worldly assets, but so much less in faith. It can be a place of peace and gathering for his community too. I hope you’ll keep up updated!
    Blessings to you and yours on Thanksgiving, and in the Christmas Season. I’ll look forward to spending some of 2016 with you right here 🙂
    Ceil

  3. blankSharon

    What an awesome story! I am so inspired by people of great faith – and it strikes me that Cowboy definitely fits in this category. Can you even imagine the outreach of his chapel in the jungle? I pray that this dream comes true – for there is nothing better than finding Hope in the person of Jesus – the One who gives us purpose, who is eternally good, and is our personal God.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! May it be filled with faith, family, friends, fellowship…OK, and lots and lots of food!

    GOD BLESS!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Lots and lots of food…I think that part is a given for this week, Sharon. 🙂 Hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving too.

      Cowboy inspires me too. He teaches me things that I might not learn from anyone else. I love how God puts the body of Christ together.

  4. blankKathy

    wow! Cowboy, what faith!! How God uses the poor and the meek to open our eyes to radical faith!! I love this blog, so raw and filled with wisdom and lessons for us all! Grateful I visited today from #smallwonder! Just beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. blankmelody

    Father – I pray now you would provide for Cowboy as he has a desire to tell others about you. Help him really and in truly build this chapel and let your word go forth from it. It sounds silly and crazy this idea of a chapel. But I can think of a lot of stories in your word where you’ve pulled off the crazy. Would you do it for your name’s sake, Lord. Amen.

  6. blankDianna

    What an encouragement this post…Cowboy’s story…has been, Lisa. Thank you for your obedience to share it. (((hugs)))

    To answer your question about who is teaching me contentment I would have to say it is our pastor who is caring for his wife with Alzheimer’s. As they walk in to church every service, arm in arm, he makes her feel content and loved regardless of where her mind may be at that time. All the while, I know that he is missing the real person…the one who has shared all of these years of married life with him. The harder the trial the more the love of Christ radiates from his being. I am no where close to that kind of Christ love, but he truly inspires me to desire it more and more.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Oh, Dianna, that is a powerful scene to watch, your pastor and his wife. Thank you for sharing tht. I think of how my dad cared for my mom in the midst of her Alzheimer’s when she would say things to him that she never would have said in her right mind. That is love indeed!

  7. blankBill (cycleguy)

    Hi Lisa! I love the 3 points you make right in the middle of your post. They sum it up I believe. With God there are no mistakes, no accidents, no chance and no luck. I love he is taking “it to the streets.”

  8. blankRachel Q

    What a sweet story! I love how God uses others to speak truth to our lives if we just slow down enough to listen! Thank you for sharing this great story with us! I’m going to take it with me as I run errands today! (Your neighbor at #RaRaLinkup)

  9. blankJune

    Thank you for sharing Cowboy with us, Lisa. I do believe. In God, of course, but also that He wastes nothing, and that there is enough good left in this world to keep fighting for . . . each in our own way, as God provides. Wishing you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving!

  10. blank~ linda

    “Never wasted,” dear Lisa. No, our time with the person God places before, beside, behind us is never wasted because God’s plan is perfect. I am grateful for you, Lisa, for your commitments to the many. You are the few but you are obedient to His call.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Your encouraging words are also welcomed in my soul, Linda. Thank you for your gentle ways. Much appreciated, friend! I know God isn’t wasting our connection via words on a screen!

  11. blankMary Geisen

    Wow! Thank you for sharing about Cowboy! I love how he teaches us all to believe in our good God even when circumstances would say otherwise. That is a testimony to the power and love of God for our jaded hearts.

    Praying that more know their purpose and hope because they believe in God! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Mary. I love what Cowboy is teaching too. Depending on our circumstances for contentment and/or for faith is definitely the wrong thing to do.
      Hope you had a great Thanksgiving yesterday!

  12. blankAnita Ojeda

    I’m thinking that God himself is teaching me contentment in our crazy journey this year. I have learned so much and I know that he’ll have more lessons for me. But I also know he’ll be right there at my side.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Whenever God himself teaches us something, we know it’s going to be good! Such a blessing. Praying we all learn the lessons that he wants us to learn with minimal discomfort and maximum speed. 🙂

  13. blankLaura

    Such a beautiful story, Lisa. Your work and the blessings you find there always inspire me. I want to learn from Cowboy too. May my eyes always be open to the ways you answer prayer, Lord. And may I never stop dreaming for your good purposes. Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Laura. I echo your prayer that we keep our eyes and hearts open to what God wants us to be seeing and doing! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

  14. blankfloyd

    Wow… What a powerful and inspiring story. That’s the kind of story and person that puts this life back into perspective. Especially at Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing this, Lisa. Awesome.

    1. blankLisaNotes Post author

      Yes, Cowboy always helps me put my own life into perspective too. I never walk away unchanged. I’m grateful for encounters with him.
      Hope you and your family had a great Thanksgiving, Floyd!

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