Yesterday a group from my church went to a local women’s shelter to cook and serve dinner for the residents. The facility, called Shepherd’s Door, provides more than just shelter for the women and children who live there. They provide life skills training, education, grief counseling, and a safe place for the first time in their lives. As volunteers, my church group gave a nutritious and delicious dinner to the residents, but we also showed them the love of Christ.
But most important, Shepherd’s door provides these women and children with the one thing that will fill the void in their hearts—Jesus Christ.
A funny thing happened on my way to Shepherd’s Door. As I sat at the gas station down the street from my house, I turned on the GPS in my phone and set the navigation to take me to the facility. I had been there before, just last weekend, with my friend from church but I knew the shorter route would be via a different freeway and I wanted a little navigation help for the last part of the trip.
For some reason, the GPS couldn’t quite figure out where I was. When I was leaving the gas station it told me to turn right on 6th, but that would have taken me two blocks further than I needed to go. Since I know my own neighborhood I ignored the navigation directions and hoped it would figure out where I was and get straightened out by the time I got to the east side of Portland. But it never did. As I drove down the main street that Shepherd’s Door is on, my navigation system kept telling me to turn left on a street I had recently passed and then turn right onto the street I was already on. It kept recalculating the route and telling me to again turn left, go several blocks, and then turn right onto the street I was on. I finally turned it off because by this time I recognized the area and knew where I needed to turn.
If I had not known where I was going, I could have really gotten lost. And I was not too far from some neighborhoods I would not want to have been lost in. I might have had a very hard time finding my way back out of such places.
Thinking about this later, I realized that this experience was a perfect example of the importance of what the staff at Shepherd’s Door teaches the residents. The directions and messages we hear in life are often like the directions I was getting from my phone’s navigation system—just plain wrong. But if we don’t know what the truth is, then we might become lost trying to follow these wrong directions. We will fill the void with misinformation and lies.
The women who come to Shepherd’s Door have heard a lot of wrong directions—lies about who they are and how worthless they are—and without the truth of God’s love and mercy to keep them from getting lost they don’t have much of a chance. They have filled the void in their hearts with anything they think can protect them from being hurt again.
But Shepherd’s Door shows them that God loves them and wants the best for them, that they do have worth and importance in this world, and that they can have a better life walking in the grace of Christ. The staff and volunteers work together to show the residents what life can be like when we fill the void in our hearts with Jesus and His love.