humility and shameBy
Late last night I saw a voice mail from a neighbor that said “we have big problems.” He wanted me to call him back. Instead, I walked next door to his house.
The short version of the story is the father who phoned and his oldest son were fighting. They didn’t see a way out except for the son to move out and for there to be a permanent break in their relationship. We talked for some time about life and about God’s forgiveness. After that, they humbled themselves and asked for forgiveness for all of the stuff they had been doing to each other. That humility thing was not easy. It is hard for all, and definitely hard for the people among whom we live. I was amazed at the beauty of a reconciled relationship. God was clearly at work.
So after a late night last night, I rolled out of bed somewhat early this morning to let the dog out and have our morning ritual of giving her food and water and have a few rounds of fetch. (Usually she brings me the frisbee, sometimes I take it to her.) While out there, my neighbor starts whistling at the missional pooch. Then he and I begin talking and he asks me to come over to chat. When I arrive on his back porch there is another man there waiting on me.
“You are a man of God?” he asked. OK, that was a first for me. It seemed like a frightening question for so many reasons. Based on his dress, I could not tell if he was a preacher or a businessman. Based on his leadoff question I guessed wrong, but it wasn’t important. The only answer I could give in those circumstances was “yes, i am.” Then he started to tell his story. Well, the story is not appropriate for family reading, but he was asking for help. We talked about a prodigal son who returned to be graciously received by a loving, forgiving father. We talked about the Savior and about giving our life to Him. No sooner had I offered that we could pray than he was on his knees on rough concrete steps on the patio in slacks and a tie. I knelt in my PJ shorts and t-shirt while my neighbor knelt behind us in his normal painters garb.
This man cried out to God. Tears and snot were in abundance–yes, that tie will be ready for retirement before another wearing. When we finished praying, he shared about the deep shame he felt for the first time ever. He continued to be hunkered down, humbled before God. I am humbled and rejoicing.
God is moving here among our people.