Monday, April 7, 2014

The Cost of Freedom

Two months have passed since we've seen him there, months of wondering mixed with some worry. I still don't really know him, but I've seen things. I've seen eyes like his that pace the room and hands that can't stop moving. I've seen the way a good man can get lost in freedom, the way a good man can get lost in himself, so far gone that he never even knew he existed, so far gone that he'd never say he was good.

It's hard not to think the worst, but it's harder to feel like a fool.
So we plummet past the trap-door of practicality and tell ourselves it might be bad but it could probably be worse. I'm sure he's doing fine, we say.

We know first-hand that church doesn't mean as much as we'd like to believe, especially for boys who grew up hating it. He came once. The bread was broken and he received.

And I trust in a God whose son could multiply the loaves, so I trust in a God whose son could multiply the grace unfurling in one slim Sunday hour. I trust that the same Jesus who came to walk among us, live within us, can climb inside a tatted, broken body, and find His home. Of course He can. Right?
We see him across the room, the same pair of khakis, the same tidy shirt.
We go to him, hearts sinking at the way his eyes are so lost.

A lot can happen in two months.
I can't even imagine what might have happened.

His blue eyes fill, red-rimmed, struggling to meet ours.
He's lost and broken. He needs a friend. He needs someone to fight for him. Someone to believe in him.

If there's a chance in the Universe for him to rise on up, he's got to walk away from everything he's ever known, every wrong person he's chased. Can you imagine? All of his history wiped clean. All the love he knew - all the wrong kinds of love - burned up and floating away.

Where that leaves him is weeping in a church pew, scared to death of his freedom.

What happens when safety only registers when all the decisions are made for you and everything you own fits under the bed of your cell? What do you do when, for the first time in 15 years, the world belongs to you, and it terrifies you, ties you in knots?

We know God can fix our middle-class problems. We thank him mindlessly for our lunch, veering off script just enough to remember a roof over our heads on these rainy days. We pray for our sick aunt and the babies in Africa. We say we trust Him. We say we trust Him.

But all across our towns, other prayers fall hot and soak the pillow. All across town, our brothers and sisters hope they're praying right, but aren't so sure. They believe there's something bigger than who they are, but they don't know if they've used up all their chances.

They beg for help and Jesus looks at you and me and asks, "How much bread do you have?"

Can we trust Him enough to believe He'll multiply our lack? Can we possibly believe we'll know what to say or how to act or what on earth we can possibly do to help? Can we stop telling ourselves what we have could never be enough, so why bother?

He kneels once more, receives Christ's body, broken singularly, specifically for him.

I say that I trust Him, and pray it sustains this friend who's so afraid right now of living.