March 16, 2019
I never know what to expect when the door bell rings.
Today, it is a young man I’ll call George. I’m guessing he is 12 or 13. We see him more in the summer when he comes around, often with a lawn mower, looking for work to make a few dollars.
I know that he was friends with the pastor from a local ministry who was killed on his motorcycle a few years ago. I’m pretty sure he was acquainted with the vandalism on my mini barn a few years back.
Today, when I open the door, he wants money.
“Is there anything I can do to earn two dollars?” he asks.
I look around at the cold porch and lifeless lawn.
“Hmmm.” I say. “I don’t think there’s anything today.”
“I just need two dollars,” he says. “I need to buy an ID at school.”
“Why don’t you come back when Marnell is home?” I suggest. “Maybe he will think of something.”
“Okay,” he says. “Do you have any ice cream bars?”
“I might!” I answer, pleased to be asked for something easy. “It’s almost too cold for ice cream! But let me go check.”
Sure enough, the summer box of ice cream bars is still buried in my freezer. I pull out an ice cream sandwich wrapped in white paper.
“Thanks,” he says. “I’ll be back after six.”
Words drop from George’s mouth like honey. He knows all the proper lingo. God bless you. Thank you. I appreciate this.
A few minutes later, I see another young man in the street, probably walking to work at McDonald’s. I’ll call him Steve. We know him well too, and he also asks to mow our lawn in the summer. He is also very smooth and polite when he speaks to us.
George and Steve meet in the middle of Brady Street, right beneath the window where I work at my computer. George seems to be asking Steve for something. Soon, Steve hands a smoking cigarette to George. George takes a quick, practiced puff, and hands it back. Steve continues on his way, smoking. George runs up another neighbor’s steps.
I wonder what they are smoking, and I wonder why he really wanted the $2.
I’ve sent Captain Garrison off to be edited, but these boys remind me of my good friend Nicholas Garrison before he came to Christ. This is a piece from the draft.
Nicholas swore deliberately and often. He found that wild words and explosive cursing, dispensed in just the right quantity, gained him respect from the sailors. He had started with mild language. Now, he used the names of God and words from Scripture as by-words without a twinge of guilt. When the captains read Scripture on Sunday, he heard the same words, but this had ceased to bother him a few years before.
I know this is a gloomy note to end on, and I’ll share a happier note next week. But the reality is, sometimes there is gloom for awhile. Sometimes our weeks of life are not like a children’s picture book where the bad boy repents on the last page. Sometimes we aren’t living a blog or podcast where if you follow this or that strategy you will be successful.
(Oh, George didn’t come back after six. Just if you were wondering. He came a few days later, but that’s another story.)
Sometimes we can only pray that the Holy Spirit will speak to someone and to us. Sometimes we have no idea what to do. Maybe those are the times that God can use us most?
God is already at work in our neighborhood, and yours. It isn’t up to us, thank goodness. It’s God’s program, to seek and save, to redeem and refine.
He doesn’t need us. But He wants us to join Him in his work! And His love won’t let us go. And if we give “back the life I owe”, we will be richer and fuller than before.
O Love that will not let me go,George Matheson (1842-1906)
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be