Thursday, October 27, 2005

Screaming at the Trees

A man named Ron came to our church one day with a family he kind of bumped into. You see a young man came across him walking a road in his rural town. He came to understand that Ron was a homeless alcoholic. He lived in a tent in the woods of Worcester County, MA. The story that unfolds is the core of authentic Christianity. Be careful if you decide to read on. You just may learn that the most sacred acts in Christianity aren't that glamorous.

It wasn't long before the young man invited Ron to church. He accepted the invitation. So the young man arranged to pick him up in his car and take him with him. Now Ron is sitting in church with this young man, his wife and parents as well. The parents of the young man are great people with a heart to help. They invite Ron to their home for dinner not once but on several occasions.

In one instance they had invited Ron to come to church again but did not know for sure if he was coming. They were concerned about him not missing the ride so Denise, the young man's mother, went driving up the road approximately to where Ron's tent was pitched and slowed down. She rolled down her window and did the unthinkable...she yelled Ron's name at the top of her lungs. Now this might not seem abnormal but you must understand that there were no houses or apartments. It was just woods! Neighbors and passers by would probably wonder "what is up with this crazy lady screaming at the trees?"

Here's the best part of the story. Ron decided to become a disciple and follow the teachings of Jesus. This loving family bridged a gap between him and them. They helped feed him and encourage him. They found a treatment program called Teen Challenge where Ron agreed to go and be rid of alcoholism. They even bought clothes for him and drove him there and check up on his progress.

This reminds me of the story in the Bible of the Good Samaritan who found a guy almost dead on the road and, out of his own pocket, paid for some relief for the man who needed it. The down and out didn't have to qualify or measure up. The only thing that was prerequisite for the aid was the need.

I think it's time that more people get out of their comfort zones and start screaming at the trees. We might look a little crazy but to the people we're helping it is sure worth it.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes such an act, an act of compassion and pure heartedness, is all that stands between a desperate person and the most deperate of acts.

While I openly admit that I write this as an anonymous person, those of you at Liberty who know me will be able to pick up on who I am...maybe someday I will have the faith to be more open about it.

I have only truly known the Lord for about a year. Before that, not only did not know him, I didn't care. I was the person you avoided, the person you were sure not to make eye contact with, the person you told your family members to stay away from. I had lost my wife, my two children, my home, and most of my earthly possessions. I was bankcrupt of faith in God or humanity. I hated the world and everybody in it, and I hated myself.

Over the course of this desperation, I took a job and a family...yes a family of people who would forevermore change my life.

While many people at this place of work just quietly let me go about my business and while acting civil, avoided me, 2 people would do know such thing. A mother and daughter, both born again, would watch me walk into work on a Monday morning after 48 hours of heavy drinking, and rather than mock me, tell me that God loved me, and that He hadn't forgotten about me as I thought He had. Of course I didn't want to hear it, but, they kept on saying it.

Over time the daughter encouraged me to quit drinking...told me I could do it, told me it was okay to feel the pain that I was trying to use the alcohol to hide, that the Lord could take it away...of course I didn't want to hear it...but she kept on saying it.

The mother would listen to me talk about the things I had done that I was not proud of...things that I think would make anybody else shudder, but she told me it was okay, that the Lord would forgive me if I asked, and that He does not hold a grudge nor was He trying to punish me the way I thought He was. Of course i didn't want to hear it...but she kept on saying it.

The more I pushed them away, the more they loved me, the more they encouraged me. Something they said to me was that I wasn't tough, or scary, that when they saw me they saw a person who was scared and alone, who felt rejected and unloved by the world...and they were right.

Over the course of this time I befriended them both, as well as the rest of their family. I let down my guard, I tried to help them with whatever I could, tried to be a true friend to them. As time past, they asked me to go to Liberty with them, and after a month's worth of hemming and hawing, I did.

My reaction to that first time could be a blog in itself. I grew up in a catholic family from a catholic church. All I knew was that their were electric instruments and drums on the stage, the pastor was talking about Jesus's blood, and people were writing in Bibles! If you don't understand the context, go to a Catholic church some time.

To make a long story short, that first visit to Liberty was the true beginning of my journey to find Jesus and get to know him, and it was of because of a couple of strangers who saw somebody in pain and decided to help that I got to where I am now.

You may ask waht was so miraculus about that, easy...remember when I said I would walk into work after a weekend of heavy drinking...I did that week after week for 6 months. I was literally trying to drink myself to death... slip into unconsciousness and pass away. I was that hurt, that scared, and that felt that alone.

So like I said, sometimes such an act, an act of compassion and pure heartedness, is all that stands between a desperate person and the most deperate of acts. It did me for saved my life...

I still hurt, I still ask for forgiveness from the Lord, but I am not alone...He is with me, He always has been.

Bob McGaw said...

So glad Liberty was and still is a "soft place to land".