Saturday, September 13, 2008

Socks....the simplest of things.

Ringgggggggg……..the alarm clock goes off at 6:00 AM. You open your eyes and shut off the annoying sound. Lying there you say a short prayer, thanking God for another day.

You sit up on the edge of the bed, your mind going onward to the rest of your day. No thought is given to the next few things you do. The same things everyday, just routine.

After having a good breakfast and hot coffee, you sit on the edge of the bed, reaching for your socks. You slip them onto your feet without a second thought. Then, slipping those warm feet into shoes, you’re off, going about your days’ schedule. Work, school, play and then home again to prepare to do it all again tomorrow.

Now, shift the picture to another scene.

CRASH! BANG! Shouting and cursing ensues. A man sleeping on the ground at the base of a dumpster, rolls over, tossing aside the filthy, tattered blanket he’d found in the dumpster the night before. He sits up on his makeshift bed of cardboard boxes, flattened and damp with dew, acutely aware of the aches and pains all over his body. The pain in his empty stomach is difficult to ignore, and he is remembering the last food he had so many hours ago.

Finally standing, he winces with pain. His feet are covered with sores from the ill fitting shoes that have rubbed raw his sock-less feet. At this moment his greatest wish is for a pair of clean, soft socks, even more than he wishes for something to eat.
He shuffles off after stowing his "bed and blankets" behind the dumpster. Hoping that no one will take them while he is gone.

Do we think about the socks? How about all those little things that make our lives so comfortable every day? There are those that don’t have those small comforts, that can’t change the shoes that hurt their feet, that can’t walk into a warm home and take a hot bath.
The man in the picture has passed away. He was known to us as "Bicycle Larry". We're fairly sure that wasn't his real name, but that is what he wanted us to call him. "Bicycle Larry" had a bicycle and rode it until his health became worse and he could only push it. He slept behind a dumpster near Little Five Points, Atlanta until he was forced to move on.
Bicycle Larry passed away on December 24, 2007. The official reason is unknown to us, but I think it was neglect. We, his fellow man, let him down.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Forgiveness. Do you get it?

Forgiveness. A very hard thing to get and to accept and most of all to do.

This past week I began a study concerning forgiveness. It wasn't something I started out to do, believe me. I have avoided the subject for some time, very successfully. But recent developments have conspired to throw this subject into my life at every turn.

The last couple of months, I've been trying to help my brother deal with some very hard struggles in his life. During this time I've come to realize that the unforgiveness in my own life was like the huge "beam" in my eye in Luke 6:42.

42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. Geneva Study Bible

I was reading my Sunday School book Monday night, the lesson was, Forgive Early and Often. The study text, Matthew 18: 21-22.

21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

It became very clear to me while reading this scripture and the study that corresponded, that I had some serious forgiving to do. Not just of others, but of myself.

I got on my face on the floor beside my bed and took it to God. I named names, I recounted circumstances, I poured my heart out to God. He listened and responded quickly. Which also convicted me, I don't have the habit of listening and responding quickly.

The next day, I was talking with my brother and he brings up a name. One of those that I had called out to God Monday night. Under the usual circumstances, when I'd hear that person's name, I'd feel the heat of rage begin to creep up from the center of my body and I'd immediately begin to vent about her. Interestingly, I didn't feel that rage, I didn't remark at all as I listened to yet another session of revenge, bitterness and anger from my brother about his dealings with that person. When it became time to comment, I simply said, "She is in bad shape and knows just which buttons to push on you to get a reaction. She needs prayer." I could tell that my brother was surprised, but he was no where near as surprised as I was! As soon as our call ended, I thanked God for the peace I felt about this person and His grace in giving me that peace.

God isn't finished with me yet on the teaching of forgiveness, He is working through the mediums that He knows I will see. Amazing isn't it, how God can work on us through others and they not even know He is doing it? Just one more example of the love, grace, forgiveness, and attention to the details of my life that God gives me.

I'm going to adopt this prayer that I found in my Sunday School book as a tool to help me grow in my ability to forgive others and myself.

Lord, forgiveness toward _______________________ is especially difficult because he/she _______________________. I am hurting deeply from this circumstance and long for relief. I know You are familiar with all the details of the situation with this person. Please help me to begin forgiving this person. Heal the hurt residing in my heart and help me move forward and out of unforgiveness.
This I pray in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. AMEN

I have quite a bit of forgiving to do yet, but the majority is done. The forgetting, well that is another lesson I'm sure that my Heavenly Father will soon give me.