Tuesday, March 22, 2011

touching the leper

I made sure to get to the little gym in our complex by ten to eight. The last couple days that lady from the other building has beat me to the treadmill and I've had to use the stationary bike. I only run for twenty minutes so I figured I could be use it and be done by the time she got there. I turned the treadmill to my usual 5.5 speed while putting my ear buds in my ears. I was listening to the book of Matthew. I was about 0.5km in when I heard the words out of chapter 8
"When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him, And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. "

The words pierced by heart, as they often do. As I ran I smiled (and yes, I probably looked creepy with my smile because I also had the typical "I'm running so I look pained" look on my face at the same time, so my smile probably looked more like a grimace.)
I smiled because I was reminded why I can serve Jesus so passionately and unashamedly. Because he is worth following.
Lepers were outcasts. Leprosy was very contagious. They had to yell out "Unclean! Unclean!" everywhere they went so people would know to avoid them, to cross to the other side of the street, and most importantly, not touch them. And here is Jesus. What does he do? He reached out and touched the man. He could have just said the words and the man would have been healed, but Jesus chose to place a reassuring hand on the man. I wonder when the last time was that that man had been touched by another human being?
That's the Jesus that I know. He is the God who came down to earth to walk with us in all of our muck. He hung around with "sinners" and outcasts. He touched lepers, he had compassion on prostitutes and those we would consider "unclean". He calls us christians to also be people who stretch out our hands and "touch the lepers". To reach out with compassion and unconditional love to the loveless, to talk to the creepy, to have compassion for the sick even if they brought it on themselves, to show empathy to the bullies, to talk to the intolerable annoying people. If Jesus touched a leper, I can talk to the smelly kid.


This isn't my story, but I love it and found myself inspired and encouraged by it once again yesterday so thought I would share it.

Based on the story by Loren Eisley...

I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean's edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, far away motion. I saw a youth, bending and reaching and flailing arms, dancing on the beach, no doubt in celebration of the perfect day soon to begin.

As I approached, I sadly realized that the youth was not dancing to the bay, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night's tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the youth the purpose of the effort. "The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves," the youth replied. "When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea."

As the youth explained, I surveyed the vast expanse of beach, strectching in both directions beyond my sight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation. The hopelessness of the youth's plan became clear to me and I countered, "But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference."

The youth paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, "I made a difference to that one."

I left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said. I returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish in to the sea.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Next time i'm bringing my first aid kit

Today I went to watch a Rugby game that some of my girls were playing in. I wanted to go and support them and cheer them on. I ended up being quite useful. I gave a blanket to one of my girls who was recovering from a concussion after being kicked in the head. I gave a tampon to another one of my girls who shoved it in her nose to stop the bleeding after she had been trampled on. The third girl messed up her shoulder.
We lost the game, but I got to meet one of my teen's mom, and was there for my girls when they were hurt. Next time I'm bringing my first aid-kit and will have my sister the athletic therapist on speed dial and ready!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

here's to having some answers

Most of the time I don't have the answers to kid's questions. (But I'm reading C.S Lewis's book "The Problem of Pain" so I'll have all the answers to life's most difficult questions by tomorrow.) Every once in a while however, I do have the answers to kid's questions, so this post is about those.
A couple months ago a teen came to me upset and very stressed out. She didn't know how she was going to graduate high school because she didn't have enough volunteer hours. I was able to inform her that all that baby sitting she did last summer for free counts. His demeanour changed drastically and we were able to joke around after that. The stress that was so overwhelming before, gone.
Around christmas time a young woman came to me and told me about her nightmares. They were terrible, horrible things that had been and were effecting her day to day life for years. With a huge smile on my face I told her that because of Jesus and his power, she didn't need to be afraid anymore. She gave her fear to Jesus and just last week told me that she hasn't had a nightmare since!
It's an incredible feeling. Stating simple truth, and seeing that truth set people free!
I was able to look across the small starbucks table at the girl sitting across from me who was barely holding it together. I took out a piece of paper and wrote on it "Forgiven". I handed it to her. The tears spilled over as I explained to her that Jesus chose to forgive her, she can chose to live in that forgiveness. Those tears were cleansing tears and she stepped into God's river of life, and felt forgiveness wash over her for the first time. Set free.
So here is to having some answers! I try to remember these moments as often as I can. Because I don't know what to say when a young girl who has been victimized looks as me with tears in her eyes and scars on her wrists, saying "why me?" I don't know if there is anything to say at all. I just hold their hands, and cry along with them.