When i was 24 i was in a place similar to the one this man found himself. i was hopelessly confused ideologically, and because of this i was living in absolute hedonism. Whatever felt good to me, i did. Whatever seemed right at the time, i did. Thankfully because of the mercy of God i am no longer living this way, but it was not because i pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started “living better” or “believing the right things.” It was in large part because someone looked at me and instead of seeing a criminal and a jerk and a liar and a hopelessly lost wanderer, they saw someone who needed to be asked if they were ok.
That person is now my faithful and wonderful wife.
Somehow she aways manages to see the good in people. Last night, had i gotten my way, i would have sat there and groused about how this guy, a guy who as it turns out is so similar to me that its eerie, was annoying me and talking too loudly. She on the other hand saw his pain and reached into it and wanted to know it and ease it and wanted to do whatever she could to help him out.
Lesson 1: i still have a gigantic idol of comfort that causes me to be blind to the needs of those around me.
It wasn’t long, of course, before we were talking Jesus. It was He who had led me out of that place, and it is He who could lead this young man out as well. But it wasn’t me that brought Jesus up. i was sitting there legitimately concerned for this man’s health and safety, legitimately concerned that if he didn’t make a change that he would screw his life up tremendously, and also knowing full well that he was now engrossed in and embittered by a lifestyle that did not easily let go. There was almost no way out of it except for Christ, and Christ had been the only way out for me.
i knew all of this, and yet i still didn’t bring it up. Again, it was my wife who brought in the big guns and stepped up in faith and just broke the ice about Christ. From that point on, she and i talked a great deal to the young man about our own walk through hell and back, and that it was Jesus who carried us most of the way. By the end of the evening, when i was dropping him off in front of a friend’s house, he hugged me, and thanked me for being real with him. i doubt that his life changed that very moment, even though it is certainly possible; i imagine there is still going to be a long road ahead for him as he finds his way back to the path. But regardless, i believe the message of hope planted in him will not easily be uprooted. God promises that His Word will not return to Him void, and i have a sneaking suspicion that one day i will meet this young man again, even if on the other side of eternity.
When i got back to the restaurant, i told my wife how encouraged i was by her fearlessness and candor. And that’s when she summed it up perfectly:
“I am just not afraid of looking like a fool.” In that moment, i realized that i still am, and very much so.
Lesson 2: i still have a huge problem with fear, stemming from idols of approval AND comfort. i have a long way to go still.
Where i saw a problem, my wife saw an opportunity. Where i acted in fear, she acted in faith. It is important to remember that this is how Christ loves us. We tend to think that when He looks at us He is annoyed by our independence and our vulgarity, and He certainly dislikes those things in themselves, but He never dislikes us. In truth he just sees someone lost and worrying and wandering, and He wants to bring us home.
Even though i know she’s going to kill me for posting this, i thank God for my wonderful wife, who demonstrated Christ’s love in an inspirational and convicting way yesterday. Best Jesus impersonation i’ve seen in a while.
There are two kinds of fools: the one who knows the right thing to do and just doesn’t do it, and the one who does it regardless of what may transpire afterwards. The former is how i have lived my entire life, and it has simply ceased to be acceptable. The latter is what we are called to be: careless and foolish for the sake of the gospel.
God, make me into a fool for you. i am tired of being one for myself.
We are fools for Christ’s sake. – 1 Corinthians 4 : 10