Isaiah 28:11-12 (ESV)
“11 For by people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people, 12 to whom he has said, “This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose”; yet they would not hear.”
John 14:10-14 (ESV)
“10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”
I went to a memorial service yesterday for someone I knew as an acquaintance. We spent several years talking on the sidelines as our kids participated in different sports, and had a few breakfasts to talk about the challenges of raising kids to believe. He was very challenged because his kids were hating on God because of his cancer. I learned more about him during the memorial than I did in all the times we talked.
One of his close friends told a story about him. As he struggled, he’d often get up in the middle of the night and walk to the church, praying. A few days before his death, he was walking toward the church and there’s a place where some trees form a canopy over the sidewalk. He told his friends that he knew God was with him because as he was walking, the branches of the trees started to come down to him and they were filled with light. The light was dripping like rain all around him and he felt the incredible presence of God. He knew that he was going to be OK, that he was going home to God.
Christ tells us “or else believe on account of the works [the miracles] themselves.”
Someone else is living under a bridge on Western Ave. again. We’ve come along side him, worked with him, shared meals with him, given him work, given him a place to rest, to buy the medicines he needs, etc. People from two churches, not working together, but aware of what we’re all doing. His friend (they met at a halfway house after they were released from IDOC) said he called, wasn’t making much sense, was in trouble. What could we do? He knew about where he was from his time living under the same bridges, he could hear the trains and the cadence of the noise when the trains hit the bridges. I can only imagine how those sounds become part of who you are.
Sometimes there is not much you can do for someone who’s running the con – he only needed two weeks to pull his head out of his butt, that he’d done treatment before and it never worked, wouldn’t work now, he just needed two weeks to get clean. Pride. As we talked, his friend began to realize what the con was about. It doesn’t take weeks, it takes years. It takes time to break the cycle of pain and addiction. One of these men chose to walk with God (unsteadily, yes, but walking still), the other just pretended to. It’s not a new problem – “’This is rest; give rest to the weary; and this is repose’ yet they would not hear.”
On the way to church last night I saw the trees over the sidewalk. I thought about my friend living under the bridges of Western Ave. who was missing the light falling around him like rain.
How much time do we spend not hearing? How must God cry when we don’t respond? We walk away from perfect love and instead practice loving ourselves.
I couldn’t stop weeping for Jason, living under a bridge, might not make it this time, all because of the choices he has made and is continuing to make. Just like the world, refusing to believe in the miracles. Pray for Jason. Pray for those who still don’t believe.