Friday, January 9, 2015

The Teacher Teaches When The Student Arrives

The teacher arrived outside the church entry on December 19.  His name was Will.  He was a young man; African-American.  He quietly asked if I had some way to help with costs for prescription medication and he showed me the paperwork.

In the parking lot, our conversation drifted toward his past.  

Basketball.  High School.  College.  Struggle.
He had a friend who seemed to have found a truth that evaded his own journey.  The friend had been absent from his life for a while now, but in the teacher's mind there was still a hand extended in invitation.  

"He's done a complete turnaround," Will said.  

His eyes were looking outside the passenger window of my car, but they were focused on an image beyond the visible.
"I should go back home and see him again.  That's what I should do.  It's been a long time."

He asked if I would pray with him, and I did. 

It didn't work out to get the prescription filled because of some insurance problems.  So, we got cheeseburgers instead and then headed to Kent Station so Will could catch a bus home.  Home to family.  Home to a friend that may lend him more than money.

In the past hour, the conversation and prayer mixed with subtle pause and reflection had taken us to a place deeper than just acquaintance.  He bit his lip when the car pulled to the curb and I asked him, "How should I continue to pray for you?"

He looked back at me for a brief second, making truthful eye-contact and then my teacher answered, "From the moment the door closes behind me," and he was gone. 

My teacher......He had given me instruction on how to pray.  My question had been focused on gaining a list of particulars that I might approach God with, on his behalf, like pins to knock down with a bowling ball.  His response redirected my thinking.

My first thoughts were that people like Will lived in such a sad state; a place of shifting sand, with only fleeting moments of solid footing.  And for the following few days I thought often of he and others like him sympathetically.

Then, perhaps three days later, I came to a truth about myself.  My teacher had told of his own story, but it carried with it the lesson for me. 

Jesus said,  “Are you tired? Worn out?...Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life..." (Matt. 11:28, MSG) 
These words remind me that there is a place of security and peace, but I will never find it on a map...
Truth #1 - It isn't the passenger seat of my VW.  Will knew that.  What he was saying was that in those few shared moments together, he had encountered Jesus, and he wasn't sure when that would next happen.  
Truth #2 - It isn't a place at all.  It is only in the company of Jesus that I find real security and peace...and He can be found at the whisper of his name; anywhere.
Truth #3 - My sympathy for, "Will and others like him," is not terrible.  However, in some ways it can take me away from the understanding that I need that security and peace as much as anyone.  No matter how long I live, no matter how much I know, or how much that I think I know...without the consistency of His grace, I am...well, we all are, knocking on the door outside the church hoping to get our prescription filled, hoping that we might get through the struggles of life.

Grace and peace,