The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
Today was truly one of those “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” scenarios where, like Alexander, I would rather just move to Australia than have to deal with. Failed morning alarms, unending dealings with challenging customers, unforeseen complications, and almost crying over spilled milk. Needless to say, I wish I had a do-over button.
Thankfully, I left work and biked around town to run some errands, which definitely helped clear my head; the change in weather a fortunate bonus. To end my crazy day, I decided to treat myself to an easy, delicious dinner at Chick Fil-A (a grilled cob salad with avocado lime dressing…..one of my favorites). After I ordered and waited to take it home, a gentleman sitting a few seats away caught my eye.
Right off the bat, this man (later introducing himself as Brooks) approached me and asked me if I was a Christian. I told him I was, and hearing that, he asked if I would pray with him. Not feeling any hesitations, I told him I would be happy to and went over to sit across from him. Brooks began to tell me a little of his story about how he had been in the hospital for several days, that he was on his own, and that all of his wordly possessions had either been taken/stolen/or lost. I listened for a while and afterwards we joined hands and prayed over his current situation, for strength to face his illnesses, and the burdens he felt right now in life.
After we prayed, he told me that one of his greatest needs right now was getting a medicine at Walgreens, but that he didn’t have the money to pay for it. I told him I would be happy to go with him and take care of the cost of his prescription. He thought about my offer, and then eagerly agreed, but said we may have to walk slow and take some breaks, which sounded perfect to me. I grabbed my bike and we walked down towards Five Points, on the way talking about where we grew up and our families, getting to hear more of his story. Brooks told me that he was an only child and that both his parents had passed away, that he wasn’t one of those people who were part of a big family…..essentially that he was alone. Despite all the obstacles he seemed to be facing, Brooks seemed very positive and grateful for the people who crossed paths with him daily. He said that even though he didn’t have much, he always found Christians that helped him when he needed it.
After trekking down to Walgreens, and making it to the pharmacy, we were unfortunately told that his prescription hadn’t been faxed in yet. I felt horrible leaving without being able to get Brooks his medicine, but he said he would just try again tomorrow. As we were leaving, I felt convicted to ask him which church he went to. Brooks turned to me, smiling, and said that he went to Midtown Columbia. I was so excited and told him that was my church too! He responded saying he “knew there was something different about [me]” when he met me (referring to Midtown), almost like I was a part of this club. Brooks told me that every week a guy named Greg comes to pick him up at Cookout and take him to the 7 pm service. Afterwards, Greg gives him $20 for his medicine and a little extra money for dinner. As we were leaving, Brooks told me he may have to come earlier on Sundays to say hello, and I hope he does.
My encounter with Brooks today showed me once again that I am nothing but a blip on the grand scheme of what God is up to in this world. So often I am too focused on myself and my particular challenges of that day that I forget that there is so much more God desires to do through me. That He can use me despite my daily blunders and selfishness is remarkable to me, but I am so thankful that He chooses to. Being open to a situation like today (talking to stranger—praying with him—walking with him through town) would not have been something I would have even considered a year ago. For me, this change in thinking directly relates to joining/being a part of the ‘jesus centered family on mission’ at Midtown and continuously being sharpened in this area. It is amazing to see and hear first hand how God is using people, like Greg and so many others, to impact this city. If anything, I feel like crossing paths with Brooks today instilled in me a continued passion for my church and my brothers/sisters there. I am so blessed/honored to be a part of the “club” or rather family at Midtown and so excited to see people’s BROKEN lives being changed by the gospel, and turned to something BEAUTIFUL.
“When we come to terms with the fact that before God we are, because of what Jesus has done, forever loved, forever approved, forever accepted –our meaning, worth, value and security has been secured by Jesus and given to us–that sets us free….to live without needing to get from people, so now you’re free to give to people.” –Tullian Tchividijian