Sunday, November 16, 2014
All the poor and powerless.
I really don't know what to say about the Holy Spirit. I just don't. I've been thinking about it for months, more curious about it than I can ever remember being. I grew up in a church culture that treated the topic like an awkward family member you ask to stay upstairs while guests are over.
I've read and prayed for wisdom about it. I've asked people I respect as well as people I generally don't agree with doctrinally. There's different answers, none very clear. We just don't know what to do with it.
And that's okay.
The older I've gotten (and I'm still a baby), the more I've realized what a blessing it is to serve and worship a God we can't ever fully understand. There are just some things we are not going to know and a decent slice of humble pie can make you grateful for that.
I hesitate to even write about what happened today because I don't want it to come off as self congratulatory. So please don't take it that way- this isn't about me. It's about my good God who gives me opportunities to serve and who loves me when I take them and when I don't.
I was coming home from church today around noon when it started raining. I was on 20-59, which I normally wouldn't be but through a series of unrelated details, I had to swing by work and pick something up and was on the North side of town. It's pretty cold here, everything starting to take on that winter drear, and the rain made it worse. Anyway, when I was passing the Hueytown exit, I happened to notice a figure leaned against a stop sign on the other side of the interstate, about 100 yards away. He was huddled over, holding a sign, clearly in need of some help. I knew he must be freezing, and probably soaked through, and I said a little prayer for him. A couple minutes passed and I was still thinking about him (or her, I didn't know). I really can't explain what made me get off the interstate and go back to him. I just had a moment of absolute certainty- "I'm supposed to. Because I can, I'm supposed to."
I was going to offer him a ride but that thought was kind of scary to me and honestly depended on the gender and general appearance of the person. Glad Jesus doesn't offer His grace depending on gender and attractiveness and how well He judges we'll use it but that's another blog for another time.
Anyway, I pulled up next to him and rolled my window down. The sharpie on his sign was running down like tears and he looked up at me with a clear head. Beneath his hood was a face about my age that has seen more than I ever care to know about.
"Can I give you a ride somewhere?"
"Thanks. But I've got nowhere to go."
"Are you hungry?"
"I'm okay right now."
Well. What am I supposed to do for him, Lord? He doesn't want a ride, he's not hungry, I've got no cash.
"I'll go get you some groceries and be right back."
"I really appreciate it."
I went to the nearest gas station and got him some non-perishable basics. (Including peanut butter and some bananas which is probably my favorite meal, fyi.) Now, here is the extraordinary part. I pulled up next to him again and handed him the bag. I told him that where I go to church, there is a panty full of clothes and food and people who would love to help get him back on his feet. I'd written my name and the church's address on a piece of paper and I was about to hand it to him when he interrupted me.
"You're Katie Gregory aren't you?
Um. What the heck have I just gotten myself into.
"I'm Blake Hopkins*. I went to high school with you."
Talk about an awkward silence. My eyes immediately stung with tears, which embarrassed us both and there was a solid 15 seconds where we were both clearly thinking of the difference 6 or so years can make. I have been loved, cared for, educated. I sat in my warm, sensible 4-door with business cards in my purse and a rain jacket and a mom who had just called to see if I needed anything from Walmart. And he stood in cold rain in his toboggan and hoodie and cardboard sign and sad eyes. And we'd been in the same place before, the same stage. Incredible. What I remember about this kid is not much- quiet, mysterious, quick to start a fight and even quicker to end it.
We spoke for a few more minutes and I tried to talk him into letting me take him somewhere but he said he was fine. Clearly. I gave him my number and told him I'd pick him up for church any time. He said he'd think about it.
Mainly, I wrote this to ask for your prayers that something prick his heart enough to want to come. I've seen lives changed completely, I've seen my life be changed so completely, I know my God can make something beautiful from this broken boy who's had some bad luck and probably made some bad decisions. Haven't we all?
I guess I just want to thank Christ that it was in His plan for me to stop today. He is so good, so powerful, so gracious. I want to encourage you all to listen to His voice because I am certain there will be a time when He calls on you. And I also want to encourage you to be thankful for where you are, good or bad, and know that your path could look a lot different.
"Remember this: had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, Divine Love would have put you there."