Sunday, July 22, 2007

Compassion

The other day a man got onto the bus. He was dressed in jeans that were tattered and stained from whatever work he did. He was probably in his early forties but life had taken its toll on him. His face was marked from severe acne but also from years of neglect. His fingers were stained from years of smoking cigarettes. He didn’t meet anyone’s eye. He trudged to the back – carrying himself as if he had a really bad flu. There was a sideways facing seat in front of me but he elected to sit in the very back. In the heat that seat is one to avoid if you can.

I have lived around people who struggle with alcohol abuse all of my life. I recognized that this man was hung over. He smelled like alcohol. It wasn’t necessarily his breath; in fact I doubt that he had been drinking in the last few hours. He smelled like stale alcohol. The alcohol inhabited his body now. He was trapped by it. I could tell he was one of those people who were barely functioning alcoholics. He went to work most of the time. He was good at his work and didn’t cause a lot of trouble. The problem would come when he crossed the line and didn’t come to work for a while. Depending on how much grace his employers had he might have skipped around from job to job a lot.

I was overwhelmed with compassion for this man. I thought about what it must be like to live that way – going to work hung over every day, keeping your head down hoping no one will notice you, hoping you can keep it together long enough to get through the day, go home, and have some beer. I thought about his family and how much he had probably hurt them despite his best intentions. Had they given up on him?

I prayed for a miracle for this man. I prayed that he would find help and hope. I also prayed for his family, for God to comfort them. I was chocked up with tears.

The man got off the bus before me and I didn’t notice. He would have had to pass me as he walked over to the door. I just glanced behind me and he was gone. I wonder how many people slip by me. I was glad that I had at least had the compassion to pray for this man.
Because of some of the experiences I have had active alcoholics usually make me angry. I found myself surprised at the level of compassion I had for this man. God helped me see him through his eyes. We all deserve love. We all deserve someone to pray for us

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Understanding

Eph 3:17-19, NIV

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I recently returned from a vacation with my friend and her 3 ½ year old son. We stayed with my friend’s parents so it was a little bit hard to remove ourselves from the space the toddler was in to discuss our plans. Like any 3 ½ year old, if we allowed him to hear us discussing going to the park, or a movie, or the zoo, he would latch on to that and not allow us to easily change our plans. So we did what many adults do to pre-school aged children. We spelled out the words we didn’t want him to hear.

I guess he caught on because the last day we were there he suggested that we should go to the ‘p-r-c’ and buy him a Slurpee. Now ‘p-r-c’ doesn’t actually mean anything having to do with where you buy slushy drinks. But he figured out that when we spell it meant something good. One of the more common things we were spelling is p-a-r-k. Perhaps that’s where he got it.

This morning our teaching was about Paul the apostle’s prayer for the church in Ephesians 3. I wondered if our attempts to understand God are something like knowing that good things happen some place with a ‘p’ and an ‘r’. I also thought about the grace our God who honours our attempts to know him better even though He surpasses that knowledge.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Will Not Listen


I will not listen
To the unending lies
Even the words unspoken
Form untruths in my mind

Words you speak
And those you don’t
Burned in my mind
Part of my identity

I will not listen
To voices in my head
That say it is my fault
That say I am insipid

Words you speak
No longer define me
Not really forgotten
But no longer part of me