Last week as I tried to squeeze everything relevant about my current living experience into a paragraph. I know I missed many things, but luckily I happened to mention my preoccupation/concern with injustice in our world. I inevitably talk repetitively about whatever is on my mind until it is no longer on it, and so the other week one of my listening victims suggested I read a book called Generous Justice by Timothy Keller.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, this 4th of July marked the second time in my life that I missed camping in Central Oregon with my mother’s large, loud, and lovable family. Instead I found myself waiting on Friday for a ferry to see my boyfriend pitch for the Kitsap Blue Jackets. The delay gave me time to wander the Seattle waterfront. Eventually I found myself watching firemen wash their boat while seagulls scavenging French fries from Ivars next door pooped on the boat they were washing. The show captivated me until it was necessary to rush back to catch the ferry. En route, I threw a homeless man a smile and a “Happy 4th!” But when he asked for 50 cents, I brilliantly blurted that I had no change, repeated my “happyshmorth” somewhat less enthusiastically, and double-timed it with my tail between my legs back to the car. Not more than a few yards away I remembered the 8 dollars and 75 cents in my bag. I had lied to the poor man.
So fast forward a bit, and we are back to the book. I am sitting in an empty grass parking lot at the ball field cracking open Generous Justice while the Blue Jackets warm up. As I read the first heading, the memory of the homeless man by the ferry resurfaced with a new wave of guilt (I had already given myself a good beating for that one). It read: “Justice is care for the vulnerable.” My mind flashed to the hamburger buns I had in the car, the pantry full of food at home, the money in the bank, the loving parents that raised me, the safe neighborhood, my healthy mind and love of learning, and my healthy body. Out of all this privilege, I had done nothing for the guy but tell him a lie.
That is really the root of what has been bothering me, my own many “blessings”. I can’t help but feel that I am wasting all of these blessings I don’t deserve on, well, me! Naturally I was no longer in “abide” mode. This very teachable moment was turning into a self-condemnation moment.
God had a funny way of reminding me to be still though. The sky darkened, and by game time it had begun sprinkling. Being a girl who had spent all of her Independence days in the high desert (except for one in Africa), rain had not been in my mental forecast. A long sleeve T-shirt and exercise pants were my protection. Oh, and a butt pad my parents had left in the car–not exactly the best umbrella. As the second batter approached the plate and the rain became a shower. I felt vulnerable, and also very, very wet. Lucky for me, a generous man in the stands, a seasoned Blue Jackets fan, invited me to share his trash bag, his umbrella, and even lent me a sweatshirt. How nice it was to be taken care of!
Well, God had my attention, but just to make sure I was listening, the sermon in church today was titled “Our concern for the World: both “mercy” and “justice.”” I was also treated to the wisdom of the radio DJ talking about how merciful God is with us; freely giving us air to breath, sun to provide energy for all life, and if we had to had to “earn” any of the afore mentioned we would quickly cease to exist. Wow.
As I think about it more, I realize the more I listen and let God live through me, the more I can see that He is using the ways He has “blessed” me to bless others. I mess up. I get distracted, and sometimes I am just like the firefighters washing their boat though they know that as long as the seagulls are still pooping it will never be completely clean. So I will try to remember to be merciful with myself and laugh at the blunders I commit, and learn from them so I can better love and protect the vulnerable. I will abide.