Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cripple


I was a little girl in a drop-waist sailor dress when I first learned the song about Peter and John meeting the lame man. I knew the story ended well, that he went "walking, and leaping, and praising God."

I knew it was some kind of miracle.

But I never stopped to think of the hows or the whys and I sure never thought the story would intersect my life so cleanly that it would leave me hauling an ache around like kettle of stones.

This is just one complication of hearing about Jesus from birth. The miracle loses its sheen. The divine becomes a regular Monday and we know everything. Jesus bleeds into our fibers, yes, but if we're not careful we come out thinking this is ordinary life. We think we were always this way. The scarlet begins to look clean and we forget what it cost Him. What it costs us.

They walked our way last week. At first I thought they were two men, but one ended up being the wife and I hated myself for being the sort of girl who always gets approached. I felt profiled in reverse. I must look like the biggest sucker there ever was. 

It was vacation - our one day this year, and I don't have time for your problems right now. I don't even care what your problems are.

We didn't have cash but my heart thumped even as I swallowed it back down. Because as much as I wanted to say it wasn't my business, as much as I said those words and more with my disinterest and my rushing and the discomfort that snaked through me when he met my eyes, I knew better.

So we walked away and they did the same and the space between us carved a ditch in my heart, yanking space where there had been none.

Listen, I know it's not about the money. You'll tell me it's okay, that I'm not required to give money to everyone who asks, and I'll shake my head and we can agree and feel good about it. And we'll be half right.

But I have something to give.

And you do to.

If we can't remember we're the Good News, the living bearers of Christ Himself, if we can't bring that to the lost and the hurting, what's the point?

I don't know what the two of them really needed, but I know I had the fix. Instead, I became one more piece of bad news then promised myself it was right, and good.

They say Jesus lives in me, that He walks the sidewalks of Philly in my dusty kicks.
I believe it.

But He didn't bear my filth and inhabit my flesh just to see the world from my point-of-view.
No, He gave everything so I might be foolish enough to see it from His.

I'm not sure what it would have meant if I'd had the courage to look them straight in the eye. I want to faint dead away at the thought of proclaiming to them, as Peter and John did, that the spirit of God alive in me could heal their trouble, just wipe it away.

We worry sometimes that we'll seem too churchy, too weird, and all Jesus ever did was be weird and ridiculous and shocking and bold. We tell ourselves the world wants us to be more like them, and caught in the exact-right light, it's true. But the harder truth is, the world wants us to love them with the heart-ruined love of the only thing that ever made us alive. And that will cost us. It will cost us our judgments and our opinions of ourselves and our social positioning. It will cost us our street-smarts and our fattened brains. It might even cost us the ten dollars we conveniently "forget" we have, only to remember later as we fork half of it over for a overpriced Coke.

We are lying to ourselves if we make this about our money or their intentions. God transcends both. He's not clocking hours sliding beads across a Holy abacus or doing trick-math in his head. There are no ledgers where He lives, and all of His calculations end in one answer: It is MINE.

So. We are His, along with everything we think we "have".

But the good news is, He is ours. He's all we have. Everything. He owns us and keeps us and every day, he nudges us along, inching us ever-nearer to the belief that the only way to live is by losing. And the only way to really love is to wring ourselves out until we see His blood and know it colors every inch of us.

It's expensive, and it pays every debt.

So we give it away.



**Check out this amazing opportunity to be God's hands and feet with Awake & Alive in Kechene, the poorest slum in Ethiopia.**


10 comments:

  1. Best thing you have written, and that says a lot. OK, I may have said that before, but this really is! :-) What a perfect reminder.

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  2. I have to agree with Kelly! This pierced me because I have been you on that street....and unfortunately might be there again, though I do not want to be!

    Thanks for prompting me (yet again) to have my eyes and ears open and to always be prepared to share the hope that is within me!

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  3. That's a tough one. You want to be charitable but I'm very afraid of being the person that paid for a high that ended up in a deadly fight. Unfortunately, I learned that through my job. When my son's approached in DC he walks to the nearest place and buys bottled water, you know how blasted hot it is in the summer, and something to eat. Then goes back and gives it to them. He just says.. here bro. I find that so humbling. We're all just journeying through here. I hope if that's a loved one of mine someone will hand them a bottle of water and a sandwich.

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    1. Kathleen, I was just going to ask "what should I do?" You answered my question wonderfully. I remembered doing that for a gentleman panhandling last winter and how good it made me feel, but I guess I had forgotten that until I read your post. Thank you.

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  4. I agree with the other Kelly. This may be my favorite thing you've ever written. Thank you.

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  5. Your words pierce me and make me wriggle around because sometimes I get too comfortable, too. This is for sure on my FPFG top ten.

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  6. Gah... seriously. Every. Time.
    xoxo

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  7. Such a good message...just what I needed to hear. Love your blog.

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  8. "the only way to live is by losing. " yes.

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  9. These words are a fabulous reminder to me of what I know deep in my soul, but too often try to push down because this Gospel knowledge beckons us to love wildly not just when it's convenient. I just returned from a trip to a slum in Guatemala and am sorting out all of the emotions of how this same service and love is needed in my own community. Thanks for sharing.

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