10 January 2016

The "M" word

I saw the crowd first, then the ambulance. Eight blocks from my house, headed to the grocery store, singing along to Soul on Fire, I saw the crowd before the reason it had gathered, and yet my heart jumped into my throat. "Get.out.of.here, get.out.of.here, get.out.of.here," my brain timed its message to the beats. He was lying in the road; there was blood on his temple. I don't know how or why, but it had happened recently, like a wick still smoking, like wax still warm to the touch. I wanted to stop, to ask why. Protocol dictated otherwise.

"I never been here before," Pete commented as I pulled off the road a few blocks away, his standard comment anywhere we go. I silently thanked God that he didn't see the man as I called my neighbor and warned her not to go that way. It gave me a good excuse to hear her voice and take some deep breaths. 

And though it may seem completely unrelated, there's a thought that's been itching at the back of mind...brewing, if you will. And today, I'm shouting it louder than ever. 

I'm not awesome.

I yell at my kids. I'm stingy. I'm judgmental of others. I'm easily angered. I'm unfaithful in prayer. I'm lazy and selfish. I'm ungrateful for my extremely blessed life.

And yet a few months ago, a coworker posted on Facebook about how awesome I was. He saw me sitting on my front step, reading the Bible with W and J, the young men who I give crackers to weekly. What he didn't know is that his presence was a factor: I did it partly because I knew he would see me and I wanted to impress him. 

I'm not awesome.

I wish I was. I really do. When I was a bit younger (don't ask how much younger), I spent a good deal of time trying to be. I wish I could tell you that I'm someone you can look up to. I wish I was "too blessed to be stressed" and all that. This isn't a lack of self-esteem, friends. I've got that in spades, unfortunately. I just can't let you think that I've got it together, just because of the "m" word..."missionary."

I know, it's scary to think that I'm common. If missionaries are extraordinary, then it's logical that God expects more of us. But if I'm sinful and selfish and common...what then? If God asks "so much" of me...what does he expect of you?

Here's what I know: it's not what I'm made of, friends. God didn't ask me to go here because I'm made of better stuff. If you and I follow Jesus together, then it's because we both need Jesus in equal measure. If we do it in different places, it's because the Master has a plan to match his name. 

I saw a dead man's face on Tuesday, on the way to the grocery store...a soul not on fire, but snuffed out. And as sinful and selfish and common as I am, I'm alive. If you can find something divine in my life, I'm glad, but know that it's not me. 

Hear this in the gentle spirit I intend it: I'm not made to handle dead bodies in the street better than you are. I'm not made for the mission field. I'm just burning my candle until it's extinguished on the day he's decided. Like the star of Bethlehem, leading curious kings to a dirty stable, what you find when we meet might be more human than you expected...but you can lay your gifts at His feet nonetheless. 

That's what I did, joyfully. That's why I'm here, gladly.