One Week at Walmart
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of
Since we’ve been on the road we’ve stayed at ran down truck stops and at five star resorts. We’ve been to Disney World, SeaWorld, and Legoland. We’ve also been where drug deals are going down less then eighty feet away from our front door. We’ve had nights at fancy hotels and nights with drunkards yelling at each other right outside of our bedroom window. But wherever we are God is always right there with us and it’s exactly where He wants us to be.
At the time of this writing it is Sunday September 14th 2014. We are on our way to the Albuquerque hot air balloon fiesta. At the moment we are a little over 7,000 feet above sea level in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The backdrop is a beautiful mountainous scenery behind miles and miles of prairie. Scattered throughout the landscape are various Indian homes called adobes. And as I sit in my bed writing this chapter looking out my bedroom window all I see is a crystal blue sky with white puffy clouds as though we’re floating above the earth. Our truck is sitting on an eighth of a tank of fuel and we have been resting in Walmart’s parking lot for almost a week now. Which is new to us, Walmart stays are usually only for a night. Usually just a place to break up the drive. Only this time the reason we stopped here was because we are once again out of cash and low on fuel. He always gives us what we need to get where we need to be, so there must be a reason we’re here.
When we arrived we were just waiting for God to bring us what we need to move on. This is the farthest we’ve been out west and honestly I was a bit concerned about being out this way. I had heard that life was different here. Another step outside of my comfort zone. After two nights of waiting on God to provide we began to get uneasy. Doubts once again began to try to creep their way in. This is another time of pruning. Learning to walk this out isn’t always easy but knowing it’s God’s desire makes us want to do it more then anything this world offers. It helps me when I think about the Israelites being taken out of Egypt, there’s a lot in that story that relates to us in these days. Moses had parted the waters of the mighty red sea and taken the Israelites across on dry land. Then it says as they were wandering through the desert they had forgotten how God had parted the waters for them and they began to doubt. After some time passed they once again arrived at the waters edge, needing a miracle. God parted the waters for them, but this time tells them to go to the deepest part and gather stones. With these stones build an altar near the water’s edge so that when doubt tries to come it will remind you of what the Lord has done. We’ve found it encouraging, in times like these, to look back at all that He’s done for us and where He’s taken us. So we continue to rest.
After staying for two nights we realized something interesting. Generally people stop for the night at Walmart, it’s a convenience that most of them allow, then they’re back on the road the following day, but this Walmart is different. We started realizing that the same people would pull in, in their cars, every night to get some sleep and then disappear for the day only to return again later that evening. A small community of homeless folk are our neighbors at Walmart. Now we know why God brought us here.
The first person we spoke with was Dave. We noticed him walking in the landscape behind our camper. It’s a large area that’s nicely sculpted and perfect for small walks, we’ve taken a few strolls around it ourselves. Erin had just made a large pot of chicken soup so I shot out the door to invite him for dinner. As I approached him, he was the first to speak up “hello, how are you today?” He asked if I was the one with the wife and two kids. He said he had noticed us the day before going into Walmart and was surprised to see how happy we seemed. We talked for a bit and he welcomed our offer to come for dinner. Dave is a clean cut publisher that has published a few books from his late wife Anna. He lives with his son Seth in his small pickup truck and they’re hoping to get an apartment in the area soon. They are both spiritualist in search of truth, which seems to be the norm in these parts. So far it’s been very refreshing as opposed to the east, where it seems most have their guard up. It seems westerners are very receptive and interested to hear about our lifestyle.
That night, as I was laying in bed, I felt like God told me to give Dave a Bible. I woke up the next morning to Erin saying, I feel like we should give Dave a Bible. Then there was a knock at our door, it was Dave asking if we could boil some water for his coffee. We continued our conversation and then I told him we’d like to give you a Bible if you want one. He told me he had read through the red letters once before. I explained to him how each of the gospels are the same story about Jesus but in each disciple’s perspective of what they saw. That peeked his interest but yet he said, I’ll have to pass but thank you. I just said OK, no problem. We finished boiling his water and ended our conversation and he headed back to his truck. Erin and I looked at each other and said, wonder why God told us to give it to him if he didn’t want it? A few minutes later he knocked at our door again, he said, I talked with my son and I think we would like to have that Bible if it’s OK.
The following day as Erin was making dinner I had the pleasure of meeting a precious couple whose names were Brian and Heather. I saw them at the Walmart entrance flying a sign, asking for help. Brian is a veteran, he and his girlfriend Heather live in a small tent in the prairie just outside of Walmart. I begged them to come and have dinner with us but Brian was ashamed of the alcohol on his breath and Heather said she had problems trusting people. I asked if they had trouble keeping warm the night before because it had gotten down in the forties. Brian said “we did alright, she’s a good snuggler” and Heather reached out to hold his hand. I asked if they would like any sleeping bags. They said they would like one if we can spare it. I rushed home to grab the sleeping bag and tell Erin about our new found friends. She joined me on the trip back to the roadside with sleeping bag in hand. We took the chance to love on them, speak life into them, and pray that God would show them His love. We once again invited them to dinner. They humbly agreed to come and join us in a bit and sadly never arrived.
We then had the chance to meet our other neighbors, Tim and Ron. Two friends that had met during some rough circumstances that lead them to being homeless. We brought them dinner, a plate full of roasted chicken, corn, and mashed potatoes. When Tim brought our plates back he was very grateful and I asked if he would mind if I came over and prayed for them. He said he would love that and that he usually prayed every night. We went over and spoke the love of Jesus over them for several hours. Tim said that he was raised a southern Baptist and believed in God. Ron and I just sat on the curb talking about the plans God has for him. He told me how he didn’t feel worthy and I explained to him his value in Christ. We finished with a big hug and Ron explained to me how grateful he was that I took the time to sit and speak with him, especially about things that matter.
I don’t tell you any of this to boast as though we are anything. My hope is that what I’ve written will encourage you to step out on your journey. I know it seems like a scary place, outside of your comfort zone. That’s where the people are that need you. That’s where Jesus spent most of His time and we should all walk as He walked.
Erin prayed last night and asked how much longer we should stay, she heard two more nights. Today she received a text from a friend that was wanting to send us some money and how could she. She ended up sending it the next day just as God had told Erin.
Usually when we dry camp, that’s when we have no hookups for water or electric, our water tank only last about two to three days, it lasted seven full days during our stay here at Walmart. God loves to take care of His children. With the provision we received we restocked our groceries, filled our fuel tank, filled our propane, and headed to a campground. Just as we pulled in, right before we hooked up our hose, Erin tried our water and as soon as she did the tank had just ran dry. It lasted just as long as we needed it to.
Understand that God loves you. You are His child and He has amazing plans for each of us. All that is required is that we put our lives completely in His hands. He sent His son to give up everything in hopes that we would give Him our everything in exchange. We are His adopted children, we’ve all come from different lives and circumstances. Some of us are happy to drop our old selves because we see them for what they are, filthy rags. Others aren’t so sure, I kind of like my filthy rags, I worked hard to achieve them. Look around at creation, the birds in the air, the flowers in the field, sunsets, oceans, we serve a God who knows what He’s doing. Spend time with Him, start your relationship and learn to trust.