“Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.”
I love working in Clyde’s Kitchen. It is a place where Jesus lives. Clyde, who cooks the food, runs the kitchen and is the boss, has been working there for 24 years. He has a bunch of guys who help him every day and then volunteers who come to help round out the crew. Clyde and his helpers get there before dawn, us helper folks arrive at 8:30am after a lot of the hard work has been done. We get to show up and watch the miracles happen.
Every day before feeding 250 homeless Atlantans, Clyde says grace. These prayers are moving, inspirational and uplifting. Last week he opened with:
“Brothers and sisters, it’s a good day today. You know why? Because God woke me up today. He woke me up and He gave me a little something to eat for breakfast and some juice. I have a good meal for you all today. So let’s give thanks to our Father God.”
I was struck by Clyde’s words. God woke me up today. How often do I give thanks to God for waking me up? For my very life, for each breath. It’s easy to take life for granted, but none of us has any guarantee that he will be here tomorrow. So thank you God for today, for my health, for my safety, for waking me up, for breathing, and for keeping my heart beating.
The other amazing thing that happens at Clyde’s kitchen is that he always has enough food. Most of the food is donated to the kitchen. Sometimes it’s just ingredients from restaurants, sometimes groups donate sandwiches, many grocery stores donate leftover baked goods. Clyde works with what he gets. It’s fun to see what he does with what God provides.
Last week the day I was there was busy – we served over 225 guests. It was a hot meal of chicken and rice casserole, soup, salad and dessert. When we ran out of the chicken we served bag lunches made by a school group. The children decorated the bags. I was tickled by a bag with a drawing of Santa’s head. It was labeled “floating Santa head.” As we began to run out of the bagged lunches a volunteer came and told us we had another 15 people coming through. We were down to 4 trays of food. We quickly got out 11 more trays and loaded them with dessert and fruit, but where would the main dish come from? One of the volunteers who has worked with Clyde for years leaned over and said “you watch, Clyde will come up with something for these folks to eat. He always does. It’s like the loaves and fishes around here. Miracles happen all the time.”
I was thinking the same thing about loaves and fishes and miracles when Clyde appeared with more sandwiches and some extra peanut butter crackers and peanuts. He put together 11 extra meals in about 2 minutes. Clyde is able to do all he does because he is focused on Jesus and he lets God work through him. He doesn’t get flustered or irritated, he is loving and kind. He knows who is in control and who is not. He knows that God is good and all is grace. He is Jesus in action here in Atlanta.
I am humbled and thankful to be able to help out a little at Clyde’s kitchen, a place where the loaves and fishes man smiles at, welcomes in and feeds all who enter.