Formations lesson for July 14- Beginning Where I Am
June 28 2002 by Haven Parrott , Matthew 9:35-10:20

Formations lesson for July 14: Beginning Where I Am | Friday, June 28, 2002

Friday, June 28, 2002

Formations lesson for July 14: Beginning Where I Am

By Haven Parrott Matthew 9:35-10:20

Hurricane Floyd left the community of Tickbite painfully swollen with despair and destruction. Tickbite is not much of a place ... just one of many eastern North Carolina addresses not far from the Tar River where people quietly make their home, their living, their lives. That is until Floyd's visit replaced refuge with refuse, order with chaos and sanity with sediment. Cleaning up was a matter of ripping out walls, tearing up floors, throwing out furniture and hauling memories to the dump.

Many residents, like the elderly man at whose ruined home I worked, were too paralyzed by the shock to do much more than watch and mumble as compassionate strangers tried to make a 6'-by-8' tool shed inhabitable for him and his wife until the government came through with money to replace their home. The look on the man's face was one of utter hopelessness ... he looked as much like a sheep without a shepherd as I have ever seen.

As I worked on the tool shed, the Spirit worked on me.

How tragically ironic it would be, I thought, if this man had been delivered from the hell of a hurricane only to die and spend eternity in a hell infinitely more horrible. I looked at him and wondered about his weeping: did his tears flow from the realization that he had built his life on as flimsy a foundation as the one on which his trailer had been resting, or did he know the "rock of ages"? Did he have the assurance of a home beyond the one we were preparing for him? He certainly didn't need to be told about the capricious nature of health, wealth, security and control ... but was it possible that he needed to hear about the One who never changes?

Oftentimes, circumstances become the catalyst where conviction takes root: the soul softens and becomes ripe unto harvest. Maybe a reaper was needed here; someone to swing the sickle of the word and bring in the sheaves.

It occurred to me that, though I had made the trip to provide whatever tangible assistance I could, my primary mission in Tickbite was not to clean and paint. God had arranged an appointment for me to share the old story with this old man.

I started to protest to the Spirit that I didn't know what to say, but He reminded me of the master's model: start with the physical and build a bridge to the spiritual.

The disciples in Matthew 10 were given the supernatural ability to meet physical needs for the purpose of proclaiming the kingdom.

Well, I had no miracles up my sleeve, but I had rolled up my sleeves to help ... maybe that was enough of a pulpit. At any rate, it was a place to begin. I stopped stalling and gave in to the Spirit's leading.

I think I said something really profound, like, "You just never know what's around the corner, do you?"

He nodded in silent agreement.

"What was it like?" I asked.

He looked past me and said nothing for a moment. Then he told me about the night the river came to his door. He choked back sobs as he remembered how a neighbor had helped him and his wife get to safety. "I still can't believe we lived through it," he finished.

"Would you have gone to heaven if things had turned out differently that night?" I asked.

"Don't know," he said. "I hope so, but I'm not sure."

"You can be sure," I said quietly. "Want to know how?"

He nodded and I told him.

"I've heard that before. Never really gave it a lot of thought, though." He looked down at the mud. "Maybe it's time to think about it."

Sometimes the circumstances of life arrange themselves in such a way that folks are ripe to receive and respond to some really good news: the gospel of grace, the hope of a home that can never be flooded, of seeing again their loved ones who have been taken away.

Mitch visited Honduras; Osama visited New York City; disease and death visit families around us every day. Reapers are needed. Begin where you are.

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6/28/2002 12:00:00 AM by Haven Parrott , Matthew 9:35-10:20 | with 0 comments
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