I was an awkward, quiet and giggly sixth grader (and by awkward I mean I was typecast as a chubby cheeked Winnie the Pooh in the school play and there’s no recovering from that). I was very aware and generally pleased about my subculture status since the two biggest options for fitting in – collecting Pokemon cards or hanging out with girls who stuffed tissue paper in their bras – didn’t seem to be worth the fuss (or the $3.99 Pikachu starter pack).
In Mrs. Sorenson’s sixth grade reading class we were required to do an extensive Egypt group project and of course, I was placed with two guys who could have cared less about school (or sarcophagi). It was during this project I first learned to ensure success I needed to control every aspect of the operation. So I did all the work, obviously.
I’ve lived much of my life that way; controlling as much as possible, surrounding myself with familiar and comfortable situations where I can ensure that nothing will go wrong and everything will go according to plan.
But the past few years I’ve been learning about praying dangerous prayers and asking myself, “what does it mean to be the aroma of Christ?” (2 Corinthians 2:15) You see it’s in moments where my life aligns with my man Jesus that I feel the most alive and, coincidently, smell the most like him. That smell is not the $98 bottle of Abercrombie cologne, however, it smells a lot like work and caring for the outcasts.
The past five weeks we’ve had an incredible man living on our futon. He cooks like a contestant on Top Chef and is smart, kind and handy. My house will always be a place of helping people so when I was asked if he could stay while he got back on his feet I said yes. For better or worse, God has created me to see potential in people, it’s why I love teaching. And our futon friend, holy cow he has so much potential! I always think he’s on the cusp of turning his life into a beautiful redemption story.
And then there was yesterday morning when I woke up to one of his drunk friends passed out on the floor of our garage. Trust broken. Generosity seriously taken advantage of. The last straw in a series of struggles.
Do I wish that I hadn’t had to deal with the mess that has come from trying to extend a helping hand to someone in need? Of course. Yet, I think sometimes God calls us into the chaos.
While going through 2 Corinthians last week, I came across a verse that had never sunk in before:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
You see, God comforts us SO THAT we can comfort others. (Man, he always gets us with those tricky action words)
The Message translation of that same verse reads:
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (MSG)
The truth is helping people comes with a large amount risk. Walking alongside someone who is being pulled beneath the waves is anything but easy and safe.
We’ve been given God’s comfort NOT to store it up and stay in the boat, but rather to GIVE IT AWAY and step out onto the waves (Waterskis not included).
If you have a moment, please pray for my friend as he finds a new place to stay. Pray for his heart to change and his eyes to be opened to the new life in Christ that is waiting for him on the other side of his addictions and struggles. I only wish he could see how much God loves him to have given him a sanctuary with us these past few weeks. How incredible is our Father that gives everyone chance after chance after chance to pick ourselves up, dust off the crap of this world and start over.
So to all my fellow group project control-freaks out there – take a deep breath and let go. Ask God to show you someone in your atmosphere that desperately needs His comfort and find a way to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Yup, sometimes you’re going to have to step over a smelly, drunken man in your garage, but don’t let that stop you from being the light in this world.
If you’ve got the comfort of God my friend, you truly have all you need. So come join me out here. Step into the chaos.
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