It was the longest day of the year, and the sun rode her slow journey across a blue, cloudless sky and dazzled us with summer.
The yellow bright sun made us happy, made us crave ice cream and a comfy lounge chair in dappled shade. It made us forget about road conditions and matching mittens.
He approached us as we sat shaded under the awning of Baskin-Robbins, discussing which of the 31 flavors we’d choose next time .
His face wore his decades of living in deep crevices and his clothes were once new a long time ago; his smile, a toothless grin. There was no threat in his posture. In his hands he held a stack of pamphlets.
In his broken English, accentuated thickly with Russian, he spoke, “God Bless you, and you daughter and son. Read the Bible and pray with them every day.”
In our hands he left the truth, albeit an outdated mode of evangelism once called a “tract” ( a pamphlet that was used as a tool to tell others about Jesus Christ).
Today we blog.
We tweet, we post facebook memes of Bible verses photoshopped onto pictures of sunsets.
We pass out the truth in bits and soundbites.
We follow the instruction of Peter “always being prepared to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ Jesus”. Sometimes it’s effective and the truth of our well-intended words reach deep into the soul of another to encourage, reach, challenge and even save them. Other times, just as the tract gets tossed aside, the mouse-click leaves our words unread, in virtual oblivion.
But we keep writing, continue taking the risk to keep on sharing. Why?
Why does the man in the tattered suit coat pass out tracts on a summer day? Why do we post stories and build community, on-line and in real life? Why do we share the plight of the poor, speak for the voiceless, the disenfranchised and the unborn?
Why don’t we simply lick ice-cream cones and run errands, do our business and mind our p’s and q’s?
Why do we even care?
We can refer to the Great Commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel. We can list all the things God’s done for us. We can go on mission trips because our church encourages that sort of thing.
But there is a singular, glorious fact that dazzles: God is Worthy.
He is worthy of our praise, our our preaching, of our prose and poetry, of our searching for the best stories and well-turned phrases, of our song and of our work.
He is worthy.
I will exalt you, my God and King,
I wanted to run after the man, across the shimmering blacktop of the parking lot, to hold his hands and thank him, to somehow tell him that I get it- I get what he’s doing. I get why. I do it too.
In a way I understand I need to learn from him. I need to learn to invest myself more into connecting with other people, with looking them in the eye and smiling God’s love into their lives. I need to worry less about my appearance or whether or not I’m being perceived as completely uncool.
My kids climbed into the car and bent over the cartoon drawings, reading the pages that told the Good News. The old man walked away, toward another person who may need that tract more than I do.
So I drove home and decided to learn from the old immigrant who invests some of his fixed income on a paper trail of Jesus. I will keep proclaiming “Jesus” until everyone will share the story of his wonderful goodness and sing with joy about his righteousness.
I have every reason to do so, and no reason not too.
So often we speak of sacrifice and risk as if we know anything about these words. Sure, we know a little bit, but there are many people all over the world who are risking even their lives and sacrificing so much to call Jesus “Lord”. Won’t you join me in praying for them today? And as we pray, I wonder if God will prompt our hearts to risk a little bit more, step out of our comfort corner and see what He’s doing in this big world.
Remember, he is worth it.