Thursday, February 23, 2006
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
I was so confused. What had I done wrong? Why did they dislike me so much? I think that for the most part it was just high school kids being high school kids. But in my neighborhood, things never seem that simple. All the kids on the bus were black, and so I began to wonder if they yelled at me not just because they were high school kids but because I was white and I live in the nicest house on the block, complete with the All-American white picket fence.
I also thought, "Why don't they like me? I'm a nice guy. What did I do? How can I make them like me? Could i wait out there tomorrow and take some sodas onto the bus to prove that I am a good guy?" and "What if they remember me and they want to 'get me' later?" (hey, I am being honest here about what goes through my head; also, upon further reflection, I think that my fear was based as much in socio-economic difference than race difference, because I have been intimidated by white teens who roam my neighborhood, too) and "Why do I have to be so dumb as to stare them down at a point like that?"
In a very short "interaction", God revealed fear, stereotypes, a desire to be liked, and also just made me very sad that we live in a world where we just randomly hate and fear people that we don't know. Never a dull moment!
Saturday, February 18, 2006
Thanks to my Grace Life class, my "grace ears" are hyper-sensitive, and my heart began to break as I saw how driven she was by rules and a desire to get it right for Jesus. And that is when the Lord broke through. I mentioned that I heard all her should's and wondered how she was doing keeping them, and she admitted that she wasn't doing very well. Her eyes brightened as we began to talk about the grace of the Lord and how all those little laws she was trying to keep were producing death inside.
And she began to ask more questions, like, "So how do I stop keeping laws?" and "What can I do to stop living under 'should's'," and each time she asked something like that, she would realize that once again she was trying to figure out how to do it. It was precious because those are the exact questions that grace draws out in the face of law, and the only advice I could tell her was to point her to John 15, Jesus' discourse on the vine and branches. It is risky to live by the Spirit, learning to abide in Christ and let the Lord lead, and to realize that if we never do another thing we are perfectly loved and accepted.
I am hopeful for her, that the Lord will continue to reveal His life in her and the ways that she trusts other things, and it was so wonderful to see grace begin to snap the cords of the law.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Our friend showed up again tonight, confessing that she had left the group home and had smoked crack again, but that it didn't work for her this time, and she wanted to try one more time. Praise the Lord that they allowed her to come back, and I pray that they received her with love and forgiveness and did not shame her. I believe that she wants to get better, and I believe that she will with love and encouragement.
Monday, February 13, 2006
That, in a nutshell, is a fantactic challenge to the Church, which has made countless excuses for why separation on Sundays (and in our everyday lives, as my good friend Miles has reminded me) is all right. From worship preference to preaching styles, theological differences to politics, there are any number of "good" reasons to stay apart. And to give up one's personal preference, your main issue, requires weakness and humility. This goes for all races, but especially for whites, as we tend to be in more positions of power. We need to admit that we do have power and position that other races don't have, and offer those to the Lord, willing to get weak.
Or perhaps rather than being willing to get weak, it is a willingness to admit and embrace the weakness that we try to cover up so much. I don't have to get weak, I merely need to embrace it and be willing to have it exposed and used by the Lord.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
"And the two shall become one flesh."
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Then tonight we had a homeless woman stay with us (our church is working with her to find her a recovery home, and she needed a place to stay; we have been getting to know her for a while now and our home was the safest place for her), and Diane discovered anew how much she enjoys hosting and loving on people in need of care. The joy we had at having our friend here made us see that we wanted a more open home. Yet each of us, on the other hand, wants life to be orderly, controlled, neat. Diane and I each live that way, emotionally and in general, guarding ourselves from being too passionate, and as we talked, we realized that we wanted God to change us. We want to have hearts and lives (and doors) open to the things God has for us, not live self-protecting lives, guarding ourselves from harm. (And yes, there is a place for boundaries, we know). Diane asked God to give her a more radical heart, and I believe He will honor that desire. And so we prayed together (not something we do regularly), and we are asking God to reorient us, to give us new love and new joy in our ministry here.
And we are asking God to raise up a community of Believers here who will move in on our street and join us in "being neighbor." I don't think that we feel lonely in the same way that we used to - it used to be a self-righteous, "why just us", fearful lonely that we felt. Now it is a longing for fellowship and community wrapped in and around mission, with like-hearted families in the Body of Christ. And we are beliving God will send them here.
I think some things broke in us tonight, and we are moving towards openness to the Lord's agenda for us and our family here, and wherever He might take us. And I want to look back one day at this Ebenezer and remember, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
As I thought about our beautiful house being bought and turned into kindling just shy of its 100th birthday, after all our work and love, I was so sad. As I thought about our friends who don't own their homes here and their probable forced relocation, I was so angry. Money talks and people who don't have it walk.
I figured that Diane and the girls and I would have to move from Silver Avenue in the next 5-10 years due to UNCG expansion, but I did not anticipate the speed with which this may happen.
Questions abound: What does it mean to "do justice" in this situation? Do we need to alert the neighbors? Is there any hope of fighting this? How can we be advocates for our poor neighbors and making sure they receive their rights and protections? What are the implications for our church, which has set its sights on Glenwood as its missions field? Where will we need to move to live out our calling to the poor? Answers will come in time.
But I do have a peace and a confidence that the steady and secure hand of God is part of this whole drama. He has prepared me and my family and our church for great things, and He is leading us to a new chapter. But Glenwood has tamed me, and I will weep to see it changed.
We have 35+ kids coming to tutoring on Tuesdays ("only" 21 on Mondays), and we have 10 college students who are working with them. If you do the math, that is not the ideal ratio for academic progress. Yet it has been such a joy to be back with the kids.
- I get to work closely with my good friends John and Melissa (who help coordinate the chaos).
- I get to hear college students like Andrew say, "This is the best part of my week - I look forward to it every Tuesday."
- I get to play foosball with Kenny and Julio, and I think to myself, "I am getting paid to love on these kids and have fun with them."
- I get to make up rap-puns with Devonta, a kid I have now known for three years (his first - Why couldn't G-Unit get on the bus? They didn't have 50-Cent. My best - Which rapper makes the best drinks? LL Kool Aid).