Maybe not this kind of hand grenade:
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But I do have another hand grenade for you today. Let me tell you a story.
First, I had a flaming-hot blog about the debate planned. Wrote a good deal of it before I published the last one. Planned on upgrading the content based on the debate. Yeah. God intervened and that blog post will come along later. I’m writing this while someone is shrilly snarking away in Las Vegas.
Back to the new post.
It’s been a rough two weeks. I’m taking a course that is new material to me. I’ve dabbled around the edges before, been schooled on it over 15 years ago in an academic setting, but never had to apply it at the nuts-and-bolts level. Consequently, I’ve got the dunce cap on every day. I put it there myself. More self-doubt and loathing than anyone should experience has been my lot. Consequently, I’ve been struggling with a number of things in life including book sales. The last book fair was okay, covered the cost of the booth. But add that to the class, and life has been kind of grim.
Wednesday’s plan was to go home, study like a maniac to catch up, and watch the debate. I was going to blow off Bible study (yeah, still sounds strange to me that I attend that event…) and try to gather some strength. That all changed on the bus home.
I got on the bus with my ginormous backpack and walking staff and looked around for a seat. Towards the front of the bus a small woman beamed a smile at me and waved me to the seat she was vacating as she slid over to the one against the window. I thanked her and sat down.
It became clear to me in an instant that God had given her a different set of skills and gifts than he’d put in my bucket. I don’t know if she had a substance issue, or a medical impairment, but she had some problems with speech and focus. But she had a glow inside: a spark of spirit that most of us have lost or buried.
We talked for a few moments, she described her journey that day. It started out sleeping cold in someone’s basement, and would include a visit to the homeless shelter for dinner before she headed back to that unheated basement. It was then that she reached out and touched my beard, running her fingers through it like the small kids I meet as Santa.
She realized she’d breached a boundary. I just smiled and told her the story of the Haitian kids who plucked me like a chicken and kept the beard hairs as souvenirs. She was amazed by that, and wondered if they still had them. Indeed.
The next few minutes passed talking about where she’d sleep, the coming winter, and all the rest. I helped her spot the stop she wanted. Pulling the cord, she stood up and headed to the door.
Stopping short of the door, she turned and asked my name. I told her and said, “God Bless.” She told me her name and blessed me in return.
That lifted me. I had some honest joy with that episode, and I decided that no matter what my troubles were I wasn’t going to turn my back on God.
Two hours later I was at Bible study and our teacher talked about John 15. One of the tenets was how God has blessed us with gifts of intellect among the fruits we have. I’d lucked out in the brains department, and while it had been a rough two weeks, Reverend Daniels’ words hit me like a thunderbolt: “God says, “I’ve given you exactly what you need. Fair or not, it’s the gift you have and I want you to be fruitful with it.” I felt better than in weeks.
Wow. I had a gift. A gift of learning. A blessing that many don’t have. A gift I’d forgotten when I marked myself stupid. I’d also made a new friend on the bus, and gained some perspective.
Thursday morning it is supposed to be around 36 degrees when I put that same pack on my back and head off before dawn to walk to work. A lot of people are out sleeping rough tonight. I’m taking some of that fruit God has given me and taking it along with me. There was a down comforter in my room that I was not using. I actually have some spare blankets. So that comforter, wrapped around a couple of McDonald’s gift cards, is already snugged to the bottom of my pack. There’s a random assortment of street people that I see all the time on that walk. One of them gets the comforter and the hidden surprise. Hopefully it’s one of the guys I see when I cook for the homeless. He’s a good dude.
Thursday, I head back to class with a new attitude. I’ll be just fine: God will see to it. I’ll eat regular meals, take a hot shower, and sleep in a warm bed.
That’s blessed. That’s God’s love. Thursday I get to spread some of it around.
How about you?
Come back next week for some grenades and other blathering.
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