Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tales from the River #1

"Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:13-14

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells."  Psalm 46:4

Building upon yesterday's post, I've decided to chronicle some of the encounters that take place in, around, and through Grace.  These probably won't be especially long posts (after this one), but I want a venue to be able to share.  I keep telling people, "There's something crazy going on here!"  Supernatural, Biblical kind of crazy lol.  No, seriously.  My usual response to these events is, "I have no idea what God is doing; I'm just glad to be along for the ride."  I realized this morning that this is no longer true and probably never was.  I do know what God is doing.  God is being God.  We have flung open our doors and our hearts; crying out, "Come what may!"  We meant it and God has been faithful.

Early on at Grace, I spoke of Grace being a light in the dark, of being a beacon in the darkness.  As things have progressed, as we've pushed the darkness back from our doors, I've found myself speaking and praying more of God pouring from Grace, seeping into the neighborhood, into the city.  Living water.  I can be pretty dense sometimes :)  It's funny how writing the piece yesterday seemed to bring all of this imagery together in my mind and heart.

*****

I'd be lying if I said I don't go to the office on Saturdays.  I try not to, but it happens.  There's no discernible pattern to my appearances; I just show up, if I show up, as needed.  This morning was no different.  I had actually promised my team last night that I would spend today in bed.  I've got herniated discs in my lower back that have had me hobbling around like a really old man the past few days.  However, my wife was scheduled to "shoot" at Keeneland today.  We haven't gotten to see each other much this week and I miss her, so I decided I'd drive her so we could at least have some time together in the car.  While she's at the track, I decided I'd go hang out at my Alma mater and catch up on some work.  However, to do that, I needed to run by Grace before leaving town to get the song list for the bulletins.

We weren't in there more than five minutes and when we came back out, I flung the door open and nearly scared some poor soul to death out in the street.  He stood frozen staring at me, like he wanted to say something, but didn't know how.  I spoke, "How's it going?"  He looked down at my right hand which carried the Bible I nearly wore out at the aforementioned Alma mater.  His eyes instantly moistened.

"I wish I had one of those in my hand." He said quietly.

"You want a Bible?"

He nodded.

"Come with me."

I took him back in the church where I have a small stash for moments such as this and handed him a Bible.  He said nothing, but upon his face was written some sort of deep despair.  A noise caught in his throat as he fought to keep tears in.

"You okay?"

Nod.

I led him back outside when he began to speak, his voice cracking.

"It's been a rough couple of weeks."  I listened; usually in these situations those words are followed by tales of lost jobs, lost money, drugs, alcohol, etc, which usually precedes a request for financial or material help.  Never do they look me in the eyes; until today.  He looked me square in the eye,  "I lost my family.....my wife.....my kids.  I work every day, but I drink too much.  They couldn't take it anymore.  I need that man in there (nodding at the church); I need my family."  He spoke in little more than a whisper.

I continued to walk with him to the alley, talking with him.  This was not a long encounter.  He turned down the alley and I returned to my vehicle where my wife awaited, as teary eyed as my new friend.

"I couldn't hear what he said, but there was so much pain in his face."

Random, brief, unexpected trip to the church.  Chance encounter with a man walking down the street.....who needed a Bible.....who needed someone to talk to.....who needed to know that someone cared.

Welcome to Grace.

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