Monday, July 26, 2010

Look Different

Last week I asked the question at the women’s Bible study I lead, “Who is pouring into you?”

To this, one of the ladies replied, “That’s a little Christian-ese, isn’t it? Pouring into?”

I smiled. I suppose sometimes I speak a little differently…no wait. I talk the same at all times. I can’t help but question that if we are in fact Christians, our lives, speech and actions are going to be different. And sometimes we’ll look different.

I went to a Joyce Meyer conference a few weeks ago. She spoke on emotional healing. I was impressed. It brought back memories to hear her voice. My mother would fold clothes in her room every morning when I was a child. I could hear this deep voice blaring out of the television. For many days, I thought my mom was obsessed with Ross Perot. It was during an election, what was I supposed to think? But as I stepped into the room and peered at the TV, I realized a woman preacher was impacting my mother’s life while she folded one of the 13 loads of laundry she’d do that week.

Post Joyce Meyer, we visited Café Latte on Grand Ave. We giggled for hours and closed the place down. I walked with my friend Marilyn to her car. Upon leaving her, I reflected on the time spent and what I needed to do to move on from any hurts. But just before I sank into a reflective car ride where I wouldn’t quite remember how I got home at the end of it all, a gentleman ran out in front of my car.

Hands up, signaling that he wanted me to stop, I obeyed the man.

Short and gaunt, the fifty-something black gentleman looked tired, so tired. The wrinkles in his face cut deep, and though it was nearly midnight and dark, I could see his face in full spotlight.

Though frightened, I stopped, rolled my window to a crack and asked the man how I could help him. For a second I thought, “This is how news stories begin. ‘Young girl stops to help gentleman in ally, found dead in her car.’” But as he approached, a sense of peace fell over me.

He began to speak, “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’ve been wandering around for hours and I saw you and…you’re going to think I’m crazy. I listen to God, and he told me to talk to you.” He explained that he could see a light around me.

I could tell that he was exhausted. He began to say that he’s been battling demons all day and all night. He began to cry huge tears. Part of me was skeptical, but I sensed this undercurrent of peace. It was if something inside of me was saying, “Help him in any way you can.” So I listened as he talked about how his life was in shambles as he served God. His wife died a few years earlier, he was living with some other woman, Jeanetta, who he said was covered in demons. He was hungry and tired and felt hopeless. I asked if I could pray for him. He listened for a while, but then he cut me off and tried to make excuses why it was so hard for him to live. He was crying harder. The tears flowed through the deep wrinkles in his emaciated cheeks. I could see is that he was lonely, tired and in need of love.

After about 45 minutes of listening, I knew the night had to end. I asked him, “Peter, what is it that I can help you with?” He explained that he was thirsty. He wanted to sleep at the shelter up the street, but he didn’t have any money.

I thought about this for a few moments. Though usually I would hold on tightly to money, I knew that I couldn’t do that. This was an opportunity to serve God. To give something I don’t really have, sacrificially, is part of this whole Jesus thing. A friend had gifted me money that was to go toward fresh fruit and vegetables. At this point I was struggling to pay bills, but Peter, he didn’t have anything. He didn’t know how I was doing but I thought through my life. I have a place to sleep, a community surrounding me, and love. Oh so much love from God and friends. This man had nothing, except God.

I drove up the street to Super America to get him a soda and break my money. He needed money more than I did. I came out of the gas station with money in one hand and a Mountain Dew in the other. Peter sat on the curb, looking so frail. A pair of boys in a VW Golf watched as I gave him what I had. I sensed that they were concerned with this interaction.

Peter looked up at me and said, “You remind me of Jeanetta…Why are you doing this?” I stumbled over my words and finally said, “You need it. God bless you, Peter. I’ll be praying for you.” He looked at the ground, tired.

I left with a swirl of thoughts going through my mind. But some things have popped up as I contemplate this experience.

1. Though he might have been a little crazy, he could see that I looked different. I couldn’t see it, but he could. God had opened Peter’s spiritual eyes. I only hope that when people see me, they see a light like Peter did.

2. I couldn’t pass this man up and throw up a prayer hoping he would be fed or taken care of. God presented a need. I had to meet it.

3. I have no clue what Peter used the money for, but as for me, I was able to pay my bills with the income I had. If anything this experience was able to sharpen my faith.

I want to look different. Not just in the way I live, but the physical appearance of light, God’s light.

“You are the light of the world…let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14a, 16

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