it's cold. well cold for london. below zero for almost a week now, and no signs of warmth until the weekend. on my lunch break today i took the opportunity to go for a walk and grab some lunch. it's cold. so i was wearing a ski jacket, a hat, a cowl, and warm gloves. i also had snow boots on my feet. there's nothing particularly special about this, except that i was going to come face to face with one who had none of this. i went to my favourite sushi restaurant (even typing that sounds pretentious) and after purchasing my meal and diet coke i sat down and started on my current bible study - james by beth moore. it is one of those that hits you upside the head. james' central message is that faith without works, is dead. that is, if we truly have faith, if we are in obedience to god, we will be showing this in how we live out our lives. we will care for the poor and the widow and the orphan. we will seek justice for those who need it. we will be the hands and feet of christ.
to say the least. it is getting to me. i live a very comfortable life. and while we tithe and give and serve, i know that i rarely step outside my comfort zone and engage with those who aren't like me. when i do, it's almost always in 'safe ways,' through church, or volunteering with a charity. if i'm honest, the homeless make me feel uncomfortable. i'm ashamed to admit that often times i look away, just not wanting to make eye contact, not wanting to acknowledge that there is a gulf, an ocean, between us in terms of money and social status. ugh. i loathe even writing that. but it's true. that is the state of my sinful heart.
so back to lunch, i was walking to the post office, i needed to get there in the hour i had. i didn't make it. at the corner i had made a decision between two post offices, equidistant from my office. for no particular reason, i chose one, probably because i am most familiar with it, but really, a post office, is a post office, right? as i was purposefully striding down the street, warm in all my winter gear, i was suddenly confronted with a guy sitting on the very cold pavement. he couldn't have been much older than myself, and i think he was probably younger. and we met eyes and i smiled, he extended an old coffee cup for change, and i said that i was sorry. and as i passed i got a check in my spirit. i could do something about this. but i didn't have any change. i tried to argue with god about it, i had no cash, we're on a tight budget at the moment (although, clearly i had money for lunch!), i'm now fifty yards away. 'turn around and offer to get him a sandwich.' and so i made a u-turn. and if i could describe the feeling inside my chest, i would. but i can't, except to say, i thought my heart would burst, i could sense above all, that today, i was supposed to walk down this street, at this particular time and encounter this man.
'excuse me, sir, i don't have any cash on me, but could i buy you a sandwich?'
'oh love, that's so kind, what i'd really like is a coffee,' he said in a garbled scottish brogue (difficult to understand at the best of times), 'a lat-a'
'with LOTS of sugar, a lat-a, with lots of sugar'
'oh a latte?'
'yes with lots of sugar, bless you.'
there is a starbucks about 60 yards down the street, this street is filled with people just like me, busy, well-dressed, business people and university students, i'm almost sure that most of us would have enjoyed to eat and drink during our lunch break today. 10 minutes and £2.50 later, with a fistful of sugar packets i returned. we chatted for a minute, i asked him if he had a warm place to sleep and from what i could understand (again, the scottish accent is difficult to decipher at times) he said he'd met someone earlier who was referring him to st mungos. i wished him good day, that i hoped he could keep warm. i walked down the street, dressed in my warm coat, into my warm office with tears stinging my eyes.
i don't tell you this to ask for praise. the feeling in my soul today, knowing that i was serving one of god's precious children was more than enough. i tell you this because it's cold here in london, and it's cold in much of states and canada. it's too cold to sleep outside at the moment. if you see a homeless person who you think might be sleeping rough, please contact your local homeless agency, in london you can contact st mungo's.
i asked god to open my eyes to need this week, to show me where i could make a difference, how i could put my faith into action, today i got a task i'm particularly good at, i bought a cup of coffee. with LOTS of sugar.
i wrote this originally to a friend in the midst of a grief, but now, i realise, it is for all my friends, my family, for people i don't even know, who are grappling with living this side of heaven. the world is full of weight isn't it?
it's mainly a jumble of thoughts. but it's all i could manage.
Your email came and I resisted opening it. I knew what it
was going to say, my soul sank. Even before reading your words, my heart took
on a heaviness in mere moments that can only be the Spirit asking me to bear
with you, to carry this burden to the Lord. I was wondering how it gets to be such a gloriously
beautiful day and for this news to shatter it. I've been ruminating on what it
means to bring a sacrifice of praise, I’m sure you could teach me a thing or
two, you always could. And so with this heaviness I am praising him, from whom,
we know, flows everything. Him, who works all things for good. Him who lead
this stumbling girl to your family almost a decade ago and said, love her, and
you did. I love you as one of my spiritual mothers, I love you as a sister in
Christ, I love you as one who does not say it nearly ever enough.
You are stronger than you know. I am honoured to be on your
prayer list. I think of your family, of you, so much, so much. I am waiting and
working to become a woman of the Lord and the Word as you are. I am astounded by
the grace with which you live.
I am unable to give words to this thing.
I should call you one of my first mentors (I hate that word). The hours you
spent loving me toward Jesus. The hours you heard my heart when it was covered
by so many words. The times you honoured the woman-girl as she worked out this
thing called following Jesus. What a task. Thank you.
May I tell you that my single best hug of all time came from
you? I can remember the weight of your hand on the back of my head as you
brought me close. I can remember the children dancing around our legs. I can
remember thinking this is the best hug of my life. It was full of gratitude and mercy and
Christ and grace. It was on an ordinary Sunday morning in the Church hall, with the smell
of Freshee and Elmer’s glue still lingering in the air.
I know this comes as a blow again. I know there are no words
for this pain, this confusion, this hurt. I know there is darkness the creeps
in around the edges at times like these. I was loved toward Jesus enough to
know that all of this is ok. I know that you know this too, but I’ve learned we
sometimes need to be held in prayers by those who can believe for us, if only
for a moment while we gather ourselves and with our fingernails cling to faith.
I know that in moments like this there are knots in your stomach (mine too…)
and it feels like you’ve come to the end of yourself. I could say something
like but it’s ok, because at the end of yourself is where Jesus will carry you,
and he will, he has, he is. But it’s not comforting now to say that. It sounds
hollow in my head, my heart beats faster and a lump raises in my throat. Tears well. It is impossible to not sound trite at a moment like this.
that we have this incredible ability, my sister, to bear with each other. To carry
grief for one another. And I am pleading with God for some of yours. He’ll give
it, he’s faithful.
I will bear your burdens and pray for grace. I will expect
miracles, I will give a sacrifice of praise. I can only hope it will ease this
somehow. I can only pray for that.
every blog i read, i find myself nodding along to - yes, it's true. we love a new start don't we? a year is stretching out in front of us and we're unsure of what it holds and how it will end up, but it holds so much potential doesn't it? so much possibility. so much life.
tomorrow le boy and i are a taking advantage of an unexpected day-off and spending some time planning our year. we'll do this individually and together. together we'll focus on what we'd like to achieve as a couple, how we want to handle our finances and where we'd like to travel.
individually, it will be well, personal to each. for me, i'm hoping to create a small journal for 2013 where i can assess my intentions monthly and keep track of things such as books i read, crafts i make, places we travel, memorable incidents, memory work i undertake.
additionally, i'm hoping to use this resource from simplemom.net to set intentions for 2013. and to use the seven signs of spiritual life, ideally, i'll go through this quarterly so that i can assess where i'm at spiritually and grow in my relationship with jesus this year.
i've made a printable so that i can keep it in the back of my 2013 journal, ready to hand.