Sunday, May 27, 2007

From the cold hard streets of Antioch

I am ever amazed at the circles and loop da loops the ride of life takes me on. I like to think that in the beginning before the days of sin that our walks looked more like a straight line. Our paths were parallel to God’s will and we were walking hand in hand with Him. Then suddenly with one bite of an apple all that changed. Instantly our walks began to look more like to rollercoaster ride at the Happy Holiday Fun House. However, even now I believe God is still there walking with us...holding our hand. He is guiding us along and is putting things in our paths to direct us more on the straight and narrow. Sometimes these things come in the form of a road block that forces us to change the course of our lives completely. Other times they come in the shape of a new friendship born from God’s dreams of what tomorrow could hold for us. Recently I experienced the latter of the two. Working in the mission field means there are constantly people coming in and out of my world. Whether it be a group coming for 10 days, people who work alongside our ministry and are in and out a lot, or individuals who drop into our world out of the most random of circumstances. Therefore, a couple of weeks ago when Karen called home to “warn” me that there would be a couple of guys showing up to do work at the house I realized that I really shouldn’t be surprised. They were coming to help us set up a garden that would hopefully produce fruits/vegetables for our home for years to come. It was our attempt to not only save money on buying the food but also more importantly to teach our children life skills that would help them in the future. So I went into the house to prepare a place for them to stay and to get myself ready as well. I was the only one here and was expected to “do my best to make them feel welcome and answer any questions they may have had.” Little did I know that these “guys” we were expecting were two college age boys (Jacob and Nathan) from Tennessee. Even more unexpected was the relationship that was to be born in the 12 days that we would spend together. Together with Nathan and Jacob, Colby and I found a sense of community that is seldom experienced in today’s world. It is an illusion that implies proximity, interconnectedness and unity. However, all too often it is misconstrued to be this thing that we experience in the workplace or within our neighborhoods, at school or within our churches. It has been cheapened to encompass daily interactions with people who we rarely know beyond the surface. But in those unexpected moments, when true community is experienced, it will be known without a shadow of a doubt. Such community was felt from the moment Nathan and Jacob came into our world and was only reinforced with each meal we prepared, seed we planted, and conversation we shared. Over the course of 2 short weeks, much of our time was spent in fellowship, true fellowship, and for the first time in a long time I experienced the sincerity of community in its rawest form, as God intended it to be. Just as Jesus spent all of his time in communion with his disciples, so does he still desire the same level of relationships for us. However, it is we who have defiled the sacredness of this incredible blessing. We have become a truly individualized society, in which interaction is becoming more and more optional. This is perhaps the greatest injustice of our modern day society. We have forgotten the joy that comes from truly allowing ourselves to bring down those guarded walls that we so protectively place around our hearts. As is human nature we find ourselves believing the lie that community must provide a sense of longevity and remains solely one dimensional. However, the time I spent with these boys showed me otherwise. Community can be born in any time frame and in the most unlikely of circumstances. If only we would allow ourselves to achieve the level of vulnerability conducive to the development of true friendship, we might all experience community as it was intended. It is that level of community that has the potential to penetrate the deepest places of our hearts. So to these two boys I would like to say thank you. Thanks for reminding me just what community really means. Thanks for showing me that even here in this place I can form meaningful relationships that defy all reason. Thanks for walking into my world and not only seeing it through open eyes but also loving it with an open hearts. You have forever left your fingerprints on my heart and embedded some great memories in the scrapbook of my mind.
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person. When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring t he relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent has been answered and now it's time to move on. Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is omnipotent and discerning Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you are to be a reason, a season or a lifetime. You will never be forgotten.

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