Fishers of Men

“God, send me some friends, today, I’m lonely.”

It was the 3rd day of my 7 day cruise with my cousins. My cousin invited me to nanny her children while on the cruise and when I wasn’t watching the kids I had free time to enjoy myself. I’m not 21 and i didn’t want to gamble without my parents around, so that cut down a lot of what I could do on the ship. I fancied myself to a few shows, some activities but a lot of stuff was family centered so flying solo eliminated some of the activities. Despite all the amazing things the ship had to offer,  by day three, I had this nagging sense of loneliness. I had the day off until dinner time and that morning,I found myself asking God to send me someone.  A friend.

Late that night I was standing in line for a comedy show. Drained physically from a long day, I dazed in and out of reality. There was a lady in front of me attempting small talk with a guy in the wheelchair in front of me. I pretended I wasn’t listening, and deep down hoped she’d talk to me too. A few minutes passed.

“Are you his wife?” The lady asked, pointing to the guy in the wheelchair. I realized then, that I had drifted rather close to him.

I chuckled. “No, I’m 20.,” expecting her to just apologize and the conversation end, she continued.

“oh well you never know these days. You with family?”
I explained that I was here nannying my cousins and that they were already asleep with their parents so I had the night free but that my actual family was at home.

“Where’s home?”

“Dallas.”

We continued small talk and it became clear as she slurred words and said silly things that she was drunk. She introduced me to her girlfriend and she started talking to me as well. They were quite the pair. Another few minutes passed and our conversation continued. Then, the first lady I had met stopped…looked at me and leaned over to her girlfriend and said loud enough for me to hear.

“Look at her, she loves life so much and she’s sober right now.” She continued.

“Look at you, Marlie, you’re so pretty and you’re not even wearing any makeup.”

They invited me to sit with them for the show. They offered to buy me a coke and I said no, to be polite, It was already so nice just to have some people to talk to. She ordered me a coke anyways. We were 30 minutes early to the show so we could get good seats. We talked about our lives. They were two teachers, best friends since high school. They’ve been teaching for 25 years. One taught at military bases in China, so basically teaching the children of the US generals. The other taught high school. When we weren’t talking about our lives, they were trying to explain why they were drunk. “Ya know Marlie,” they’d start, “we work hard 9 months of the year…. if we wanna take a break, have a little fun, we can.” It broke my heart, really. I assured them that I wasn’t judging them or thinking any less of them. They asked me where I went to school. I told them.

“I’ve heard of it actually. That’s a Baptist school right?”
“Yes, it is.” Then, they knew. I was a Christian.

And how funny the situation, how much of a divine appointment. A baptist college student runs into drunk lesbians. Surely, this couldn’t end well. Getting drunk and being gay are viewed as the some of the ” biggest sins” in Christian world.   Surely, as a christian of this christian mindset for 15 years, I just had to put these ladies in their place. Right?  Wrong.
Guys, it was an out of body experience. Loving them was easy because God was loving them through me. No way that was me, I’m the most judgmental person I know. Drunk people make me queasy, and I had been avoiding them the whole cruise. Not only did God let me see them the way He does. God used them to speak to me. They encouraged me more in that 30 minutes of knowing them than many of my friends at my school.

I thanked them for the coke, and for talking with me.  I thanked them for being my friends. And, that night as I went to sleep and thought about the friends God brought along my path that day. I wondered whether or not I had missed a Godly family, or a christian college student God might have had in mind to befriend me that day. But, then God asked “Who were Jesus’ friends?”

And I smiled and had an “Ah-Ha!” moment.

Jesus spent time with the gentiles, the drunks, the beggar, the prostitutes, the outcasts and the rejected. Those ladies saw something in me and I pray they saw Christ and seeds were planted, not simply by the words I said (because I didn’t say very many) but simply because God gave me the opportunity to love them where they were at. Much like Jesus did and still does.

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13: 34-35 (NLT)

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Pursuit

A child is swinging at a park as the sun sets. His father calls to him and tells him to follow him home. He gets off the swing and begins to walk towards him but as he does he becomes distracted. The field to his right had a lot of kids running around and playing. They were chasing the fireflies. The child, being a child, wanted to too. So he did. He began to chase one, one second he was running full speed after a firefly the next his face was in dirt. He had tripped over a log. Children around him were still giggling as they chased their fireflies. The child had rolled over on his back, only to see a hand in front of him. The child continued to look up and realized it was his father, there to pick him up. The child accepted the hand and stood there in disbelief as his father picked him up and dusted him off. 

Our world is full of unsatisfying things to chase. We make gods out of money, our things and people. We enjoy the chase until it stops going our way. The money stops coming in, our car breaks down, or someone we love disappoints us. When things like this happen we face plant. We turn over on our backs looking for help, when the least expected thing happens. Our Father, Our God, offers His hand. 

We didn’t listen to him, we rejected him. He has every right to close the door, lock it and never look back. But, He does quite the opposite. He runs towards us, He forgives. He is everlasting, unchanging, the only constant light we have in our life. 

 

Shattered Pieces

Glass pieces surround me, mere remnants of where I found my hope. I stood on glass boxes, but one by one they shattered. I struggle to pick up the pieces but it only leads to bloody fingers. I sit and weep, the memories of what was and the dreams of what could be still lingers. Thickening the air.  Darkness all around, but suddenly a light appears. Like the dawn of the morning after the darkest of nights.  the pieces fall out of my hand as I stop in mid-step and gaze at this light. Confused and in awe. Shame filled me, “Where were you when I was standing tall? Now all that’s left are broken pieces. Why are you wasting your time on my mess?” Not a word from the light. It responded by shining through the pieces, each piece, oh did they sparkle. Tears filled my eyes.  And that’s not even all, my mouth fell agape at the reflection on the wall. Glistening, sparkling. I fell on my knees and lifted my hands up high to the God in heavens, who shines the light. 

Church. Friends. Family. Self. These are the blocks I stood on for so long.  And one by one throughout my life they have cracked and shattered beneath me. One thing after another, I hop from one block to the other. Just trying to survive. Too afraid to step off the block, to stand on God’s solid foundation.  Too afraid because it’s easy to hide your failures from people. Easy to find comfort in man’s praise. Easy to build your self up, to rely on yourself. To convince yourself that you are alright. Shatter. Shatter. Shatter.  Figuratively speaking of course, I’d be standing on the church alone, or on my friends or family alone, and something would happen and my idealistic hope and secuirty would be shattered and man God would catch me. Every stinking time. But I didn’t feel worthy enough to have that solid rock that He provides so, I’d get up and climb on another glass box. And the whole process would start over. 

Most recently, two big boxes have shattered. My pride and my family. And I really just experienced what I expressed in that poem above. Darkness, loss, confusion, anger. Why couldn’t things be like the way they were before? Why’d I always have to be the one struggling? I didn’t like  the broken pieces in front of me so in my own way I just tried to pick them up on my own…desperate attempt to put my life back together. But God did not delay. He started showing me that my brokeness did not translate into hopelessness or worthlessness. Quite the opposite. He has been using my mess since day 1. Shining His light through each broken piece, I can look at the situation and see him present, and I can look at the reflection and see His glory. God has been so faithful to all the hurt and pain in my life. He heals, comforts, restores and my favorite, He redeems the pain. He takes a broken mess like me, and my life and cares so much about me to be present in all the details. 

Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed.                (by grief, sin, depression, addiction…)

For His mercies are made new everyday. 

Lord great is your faithfulness….

You took up my case., Lord, You redeemed my life. 

Lam 3:21-22, 58  

 

Wherever you’re at today, it’s okay. You don’t have to be someone else or do more for God to love you. You are who you are right now. You’re where your at right now, and God knows. He loves the present you. I pray that sinks in to my heart and in your heart as well. 

Be blessed today, 

Marlie