Saturday, January 5, 2008

how long would you walk?

how long would you walk?

......there is very little asphalt in Tanzania so most folks walk or ride bikes for really long distances on crude dirt roads. The distance between points seems endless as you drive. The red dust never seems to settle and covers everything. The task seems impossible, but for the people walking for hours, time stands still.

Focus. You set your face toward your destination and go.

How far would you walk? What would you walk for? What would you walk the farthest for? Would you mind dust, distractions, blazing sub-Sahara sun?

I met a woman once who had a ministry in her back yard in the well-trimmed suburban neighborhood she lived in. She had a pit in the ground where she bleached the underwear of homeless men she had befriended. Each week she gathered and cleaned. When she couldn't wash them any more because they were falling apart she would stand up in church and say "men, I want your underwear". She walked far and long, and the dust did not bother her. She walked to give men dignity and tell them of Jesus.

How far will you walk? Think of the one who walked up a hill one morning. The nails and spit didn't stop him...

How far will you walk?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

you made a mistake

The whispers kept travelling through the line as the people were given food to tide them over. Finally one man couldn't keep silent. "Mam" he said "you've made a mistake. This is your food from the church kitchen. You didn't notice but you've been handing out nice steaks. Here, we can't take these." With an odd mix of sorrow, humility and joy she replied, "no, these steaks are for you, they were donated by another church." She cried later that day and she has never been the same since.

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a person who is deeply grateful? Have you ever looked into the squinted face of a man who understands the value of a gift? Have you ever been humbled by a woman coming back to you and saying the gift you gave her gift is too precious?

If so then you'll understand me when I say it is a blessing to have a broken heart in this way. That's grace you see. It's God allowing a stone to become flesh and nothing short of a collision will ever accomplish such a joyous event.

When my friend shared with me this story a few months back I was struck by what happens when we gift our best in the name of Jesus. Isn't that what made Abel's sacrifice so sweet to God? Isn't that what makes grown men cry when their daughters bring them burnt toast? Isn't that what the Father did with us when He gave us Jesus in our stead?

When you think of the Nazarene have you ever been tempted to say this gift is too precious, have you been overcome with gratitude? I mean, get-back-into-the-line-gratitude? No, then perhaps it would serve you well to look again at what has been donated to you.

Merry Christmas friends and Happy New Year.....may your bags overflow....and may you keep getting back in line