Monday, September 23, 2013

My Daughter Still Doesn't Understand Me...

NOTE: This teaching has what I'll call "authenticity" attached to it.  Within, is a recounting of something that recently happened to me and I have kept the language inadequacies of one of the parties intact.  Not for the sake of making fun of anyone, but to try to keep the story both "real" and "authentic".  So if you do get offended, please don't be.  There is nothing written here with the goal of malice.

First off all, my daughter is an adult.  While she was growing up I was most certainly not a Christian.  Not in thought, not in act, nor in deed.  I had always promised myself that I'd "do it better than my dad did it", and to a large degree I believe I did.  But hey, nobody's perfect!

The other night after my wife, daughter and I finished our work for the day, we knew that we had some errands to run, so we decided to go to a Taco Bell that was near the bulk of the errands for dinner.

At the conclusion of our meal, we emptied our trays and walked towards the exit.  When we approached the door, a 40 year old homeless black man opened and held the door for us to walk out.  I politely told him it was not necessary, but was gracious and thanked him for the kind and thoughtful gesture.

But apparently there was a price for his kindness.  You see, he followed us out and began to introduce himself to us...

"Excuse me kind folk, my name is Gary.  I don't got nowhere to live, but the Lord has me in this here ministry going place to place, door to door, person to person to be talkin' to them.  Now I'm not perfect, I know my hair is all matted and I'm dirty and stuff, but if I could just have a moment of your time, I'd appreciate it.  You see, I've been in jail now 6 different times, but now I've been out for 2 years.  Sure, I did a lot of drugs but I'm clean now.  I don't know if you can smell it on me or not, but yeah, I be drinkin' here and there, probably more there than here, but you know how we do.  I'm 40 years old, I don't know many 40 year old men who look as good as me, you know, being where I been and doin what I do.  You know?  Anyway, the God of all things has put me here, not just to tell you this, but about Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1st Kings, 2nd Kings, Ezra, Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Daniel, Isaiah, Jonah, Micah and all the way to Revelations.  I ain't perfect and you know, it's this ministry to go to prisons and to teach this things that I be sharin' with you.  Cause, you know, God ain't jus' be here for nuthin, right?  He be doin' what He do, so I be doin' what I be doin, right?  Anyway, you know?"

Now as you can probably tell, poor Gary here is drunk.  He's not just drunk, he's downright sauced to the bone.  The smell of alcohol has permeated his skin and he's doing his best to set me up to pay for his services.  My wife is standing about 8 feet away and my daughter is on high alert, standing with her cell phone in her hands and ensuring that her path is unobstructed so that she can run away and find help.  Knowing how uncomfortable they both were, I politely interrupted Gary...

"Gary, may I tell you something? (he nodded)  I happen to be a Christian Minister and I've listened very closely to all you have said (at that his eyes lit up).  Not only do I understand where you're coming from, but you're absolutely right about everything.  But I'd like to ask you something...  Tell me what you want from me today."

At that point Gary stammered and began to teeter back and forth.  Clearly Gary also appears to have some underlying and undiagnosed psychiatric problems as well.  But after a moment or two of not saying anything, I interjected.

"Gary, if it's money that you want, I don't have any cash on me.  I haven't had any cash in my pockets for several years now.  If it's something else, please tell me what it is, perhaps I can help you."

At that, Gary began to mutter something quietly to himself, again while rocking back and forth.  A quick eyeball over at my family and I can see them clearly disturbed at what's unfolding, but I know that the Holy Spirit is leading me, so I fear not!  And then Gary said...

"Sir, you know God put me here right?  And you know 6 times in jail and ima give up drugs and all.  Yeah, I be spendin' money on alcohols and stuff, but you know, right?"

At that I said to him, "Gary, you have shared your knowledge of the Bible with me today and that was wonderful.  I wish more people would spend the time to actually read it.  You shared some of your testimony with me today, about how you've stopped taking drugs and your ministry work too, right?  Well I have a question for you... Does not God say to not to worry about where you will sleep or what you will eat?  Doesn't He say that he loves you more than the flowers of the field or the birds of the air?  Didn't God say that He most certainly loves you MORE than he loves them?" (references to Matthew 6:24-34 & Luke 9:58)

At that, Gary got very excited and started exclaiming, "That's right, that's right, yeah, you right, you right, He do."

And then I said to him, "Gary, it's so critical that you place all of your faith and all of your trust in God.  Now, more than ever!  God says that everything that is and everything that ever was has been provided by Him and Him alone.  If God loves you so much, that He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son for you, don't you think that the least that you could do, would be to place all of your faith in Him and in Him alone?"

At that Gary said to me, "I want to thank you for speaking to me and treating me with RESPECT!  Yeah.  Nobody be talking respectfully to me and I just want to thank you, thank you for treating me like a man."  And we shook hands, I gave him a brief hug and then he walked away.  But as he was walking away, it was clear that he was fighting the Demons that were within him.  He started muttering and yelling at things that I was unable to see with my eyes, but I'm absolutely certain that they were there, attacking him mercilessly.

Had Gary not walked away, I would have offered to take him inside and purchase a meal for him to eat, but clearly the Holy Spirit had other plans for both Gary and my family.

Matthew 4:4 - But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

As soon as Gary had gone out of my sight, I turned to my wife and daughter (who were looking at me like I was crazy) and the only thing my daughter was worried about, was the fact that I shook his hand and hugged this man, and she wanted me to get to a sink so that I could wash my hands!

So I turned to her and I said to her....

"Don't you YET understand me?  How in the world can I call myself 'Christian', yet not show this man  the love I feel for him?"

1 John 4:20 - If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

"Where has this man BEEN, that he doesn't deserve to be treated with respect?  What has this man DONE, that he does not deserve to be loved and SHOWN LOVE?  How can I continue to lead others to Christ, if my fruits don't match what I teach???  How can I keep the love I have for this man hidden inside of my heart, when it's clear that this man is not just lacking food to eat and a place to live, but he's lacking love and respect?"

I'm sharing this experience with you for a couple of reasons.  The first, is to remind you that the REALITY of AGAPE LOVE, is indeed within each one of us who are called by His name (Christians).  I had no intention of having this conversation with this man the other day, but for whatever reason God placed this poor soul in my path.  WHY?  Was it for Gary's sake or for that of my wife and daughter?  I don't know and quite honestly I'm not going to dwell on it.  God has his reasons for everything and I'm not always privy to why.

Isaiah 55:8 - "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD."

The one thing I know for sure, is that Gary was placed within my path for HIS Glory!

The second reason that I'm sharing this with you today, is to let you know that I understand the pain that each of you may be going through, if you've become a Christian and your family has not.  My wife and daughter were absolutely terrified during what they've referred to as "the ordeal", while I was as calm as could be, truly at peace.  I knew the entire time that God was in charge, and if God be for us, who can be against us?!

Romans 8:31 - What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

If it is God's will that your family will follow you, or not to follow you, that is within HIS WILL, not yours.  It may be easy to hear, but hard to do, and I can promise you that if you continue to place all of YOUR faith and all of  YOUR trust in God, then whatever is SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN, will most certainly happen.  And be warned...  You can't "act" your way through life.  Your fruits are visible even when you're not thinking about them or even when you don't think others are watching...

Mark 4:21-23 - Also He said to them, "Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."

Until next time, be Blessed...

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