Monday, April 30, 2007

To give and not to take

(Click to enlarge)

4/30/07 Monday
It’s a shame when going to church is depressing. But I was well on the way to being depressed anyway. Cherie called late last night and she’s been fighting depression also. She was heartened when I told her several of the women in the church had asked about her. It is a good sign that she will find some fellowship there. I don’t know what I’m supposed to expect and will try to not expect much so I won’t be disappointed.

I tried to call Kevin again this morning but the phone number still rang busy so I called the church to see if it was the right number as the directory I’m using is a 2001 one. The church number was busy also but picked up when I called again a few minutes later. Seems the phone lines were down and the lady who answered said they do that with a drop of rain. She gave me Kevin’s cell phone number. This always amazes me how free folks are with things like phone numbers. A real illustration that this is a foreign world to us, a very different culture. Yet it makes it even more puzzling to me that we don’t seem to be “welcomed into the fold”.

I feel I need to elaborate on that because these statements evidently have been taken as a sort of insult or personal attack. Please don’t take this in that way, understand I am just revealing my confusion and what could well be a wrong way of thinking. Again, I long to be educated and corrected if I am off base. All it takes is a few minutes of conversation, not just once but on a regular basis. Sure we can go to all the church functions and all of that but there is no depth of fellowship in that. How can I explain this?

This is the back door with "lock" in place

When my brother dumped me in the upstairs apartment that was located in the middle of “Crack town” in St Louis I was surrounded by gang bangers, drug dealers, and prostitutes. Despite being the only white guy for miles I would go out and walk, attempting to gain some strength in this body that had languished in a coma for so long. I was so weak I couldn’t raise my hand high enough to comb my hair and even getting out of bed involved me raising my knees to my chest and rocking as I kicked them out to sit up. When I first started walking I could only go a couple of blocks and it probably looked like I was drunk because I was still learning to control my right leg.

Here's the kitchen sink. with some windows broke I would wake up with a bird setting on the mattress I was lucky to have.

You should have seen the looks on the faces as they saw this pale, skinny (I lost seventy pounds while in the coma), strange looking white boy who just showed up in their “Hood”. Of course the standard question was “You all right”. I always said I was but didn’t understand till later this was their way of asking if I wanted to buy some crack. Yet some took notice. Understand that in this world not everyone was a drug dealer, there were mothers, fathers, children, families. Curious some would ask who I was and learning I was no threat (as in an undercover police officer) and what my condition and situation was they opened their arms in a manner of speaking. I was invited into their homes, I would get up in the morning and find a bag of groceries sitting by the front door.

Longing for people to talk to (sound familiar?) I went to the bar that was five blocks away. I only had the twenty bucks my brother would give me a week, sometimes, so I would go in and buy one beer to sit and talk. I never asked for a dime but would be offered food by the bar owner and others that worked there and they let me use the kitchen in the back to cook on. That was all greatly appreciated but what was most valuable was to have friends to talk with. That’s why I would go. That’s why, despite getting knocked down and robbed twice, I enjoyed going out and walking. For here people would sit on the steps in front of the old brick tenement buildings and socialize. I would walk by and they would call me by name and invite me to set and visit a while. Often their would be a grill going and food was always offered, sometimes beer and drugs were as well. All part of that world and part of sharing what they had. Right or wrong the heart was good. Here, in the midst of poverty and the misery that comes with it, was open hearts and generosity. I am reminded of a passage in the bible Mark 12:41

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. 43 Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."

There is a truth here I have personally seen and experienced in my journeys since I woke up. Of all the gifts one could give, in this day and age where all hurry with their days full of things to do the most valuable gift is time. It is also one which may come with the greatest sacrifice as it is a commodity many have little to spare.

If this bothers some I am sorry. No that wouldn’t be true. I would think that if it cuts then there may be a truth you should look to yourself with. Here is a hard thing but the things of God are often hard, not the easy path but the one that comes with a cost. Here then is a hard thing, the words of Jesus found in Mathew 25:34

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' 41 Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' 44 Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Now I suspect that some will say that I am using this as a tool to get things out of the church, trying to manipulate things for my own profit. How can I dispel such a notion? How can I show I wish only to open eyes so that seeing one may improve their walk with God? I don’t know. I have asked for firewood when I learned some mesquite was being cut down anyway and I asked for goat crap that was being thrown away and I will gather it myself thus helping the giver in cleaning his stalls. My God has and will provide. I will accept no gift that I feel comes out of compulsion for to do so will poorly serve the giver. If not given from a pure heart it is not acceptable to God. It is never what you do but why. God judges the heart not the action. Perhaps the only gift I will accept is time and fellowship.

There is much I wish to give and nothing I desire to take. This is my heart and a direct result of the lessons I learned from the mistakes that led to my death and revival when I fell asleep at the wheel. Much has changed because of that and my priorities in life are very much revised. I once had money and popularity but they are as garbage to me now. The only thing that has lasting value is the lives we touch. Now, despite having little to spare, I am a rich man. I have my life my wife and her love. All I seek is some to share life with. This may be happening as I write. Being impatient I want everything in an instant and being a child don’t always understand they take time.

This afternoon I will meet with a man in Midland who has been following this blog. He E-mailed me and offered to meet over lunch where we can talk of things in general. It is a welcome gift that I look forward to. A gift of great value. I will show him this and if he so advises will remove it.
Went out to pull weeds and found I was lightheaded and a little weak. Going inside I see that I didn’t take my meds this morning and forgot to take them last night. Plus I have not eaten today so I fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and took my pills. Time to go to the nursery and then to meet Eric.
It has been a wonderful day and one I stayed sharp for. I think one of the reasons is that my stress level has been reduced. Before we came to Texas there were weeks I would go without a slowdown. You long term readers will remember me expressing concern about how I would handle things here and being worried that the increased stress level would debilitate me. It does have a definite affect. So what made today better?

Perhaps it was Eric giving me that gift I referred to earlier, the gift who’s value exceeds all others, the gift of time. It was so good just to sit and talk. We talked about God, the farm, how I should act, and whatever else came up. Eric helped me sort through some things in addition to just providing some of the fellowship I crave as all of us do. Pastor Dave has also spent some time with me with the same favorable result. It is unfortunate that his calling requires him to wisely allocate his time for there are so many who need his shoulder and ear. I would be very selfish to demand time and would also rob others who’s need may be much greater.

Eric helped me understand that things take time and it was unfair for me to expect too much too fast. However things are moving pretty slow all things considered. He encouraged me to start the other blog I had been contemplating for about three years, Balaam’s ass. Eric recognizes I have much to say and told me this would be a powerful ministry. Never really thought of it like that. We plan on getting together again and perhaps on a regular basis. That will help me sort things out as we move on down this path Cherie and I are on. Thanks Eric. It’s the little things that mean the most. At least as far as this is concerned.

I got a ton of compost and some fertilizer at Aldredge nursery and I pretty much cleaned up a big mess for them in doing so. I like it when things work that way, I get blessed with something and help them out as well. A win win situation. Still haven’t unloaded the truck yet as I have to figure out what to do with this stuff. Already filled two trash cans with compost and haven’t touched half of it. Probably spread the rest out where I know it will be used.

I am pretty tired right now. When I got home I went straight to pulling weeds as I processed my time with Eric. Then I unloaded part of the compost but figured I should take a break and write a little. Writing is a tool I use to think things through. I want to take a nap but there are only about two hours of daylight left and I don’t want to lose that. I can rest later. I’ll post this and check my E mail then head out to get some work done.


Janie said...

Bob - I'm glad you got to meet Eric! You couldn't have met a nicer guy!! Though MLH & I don't get to hang with them, we think the world of them. And hopefully you'll meet us soon, too.

Eric said...

Bob, the gift goes both ways, you know. You've got a powerful testimony, and I was blessed to hear you share it. Can't wait to meet Cherie.

And, Janie, thanks for making me blush! ;-)

Bob said...

We are beginning to feel like this is home here as we begin to find folks like you. Look forward to seeing things progress.