I sling my overstuffed gym-bag over my shoulder and squint against the cold drizzle that hasn’t stopped for the last five days.
“You ready?” I say to my wife, as she jumps out of the car landing squarely in a puddle.
“Puddle,” she says, like someone repeating the punchline to a really bad knock-knock joke.
We walk from the parking lot and up the steps to our warm haven from the wet cold. The Vancouver YMCA offers a free three day trial and we are making the most of the showers, pool, sauna room, and basketball court. Neither one of us has ever played basketball, nor are we ardent fans of any teams, but it’s a fun way to stay out of the rain, so we’ve picked it up.
“Hi, Susan!” Stefanie says, shaking the water from her hood.
Susan waves from behind her desk, “I couldn’t stop thinking about you two last night, you know, sleeping in the cold.”
We smile remembering much colder nights.
“We have blankets,” Stef says, trying to console her, “We stayed warm.”
We check out a basketball and make our way to the courts.
“You know,” I say, “We just put a face on homelessness. Every time she thinks about the cold she remembers us out there in it. It’s not a faceless issue anymore.”
Following God is a humbling endeavor. There is no room for pride on the boat that takes you to the shores of grace.
My wife and I celebrated our six month anniversary yesterday. In that time we’ve moved seven times and unpacked twice. We’ve driven over 9,000 miles and have seen the hand of God in every single rotation of our tires.
It gives me great joy and confidence when I read about Abraham and Isaac wandering around the desert following God’s direction. God gave them promises and then told them to wait, or worse he didn’t tell them to wait and they ended up waiting because his promises didn’t come true right away.
I can relate to that.
Remember that following Christ is a risky endeavor. Most of his followers ended up fleeing for their lives, imprisoned, mocked, or killed in horrible ways. Remember them when you think that getting snickered at for saying “Merry Christmas” is persecution. We have no idea what persecution means.
Remember that Jesus promised that we would be persecuted (Matthew 5:11&12, 10:16-36, Mark 10:29&30, and John 16:33). I know it’s not popular to think about these things, and know that there is so much within me that wants to believe in a God that is concerned with my comfort above anything else, but that is a selfish sinful thought. I am who I am today because of the trials and tests that I have been through.
Remember that God is more concerned about your character than he is with your comfort. He, like a loving father, will lead his children through great difficulty for the sake of his glory and their greater dependence on him. When you are pleading for the Holy Spirit to make you more like Christ remember who he was. In his humanity he was a despised, hated, sleep-deprived, weary, ugly, homeless man.
At the YMCA we make it to the basketball courts, still thinking about Susan and hoping that God is using our story to strengthen her faith.
“You know,” my wife says, her small hand in mine, “I think this is the closest to living like Jesus that we’ve ever been.”
Until next time,
Lose your life!
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Luke 14:31-33