We occupied the corner booth at McDonald’s. Coffee for him, chocolate shake for me…Don’t judge, I just completed a 30 mile bike ride.
Incredibly intricate tattoos covered his arms and neck. Weathered, scarred face showed the wear and tear of hard living. Drugs. Drinking. Gangs. Jail. Pain and loss beyond imagination. Seemingly endless cycles of recovery and relapse, hope and despair.
All leading to an apparently final plunge into a pit so deep, darkness so black, that escape, climbing out, emerging with anything resembling hope seemed impossible. He’d finally gone too far. It was finished.
As he uttered those two simple words, something changed. His beat-up face brightened a bit. He sat up a little straighter. He smiled, shook his head, and slowly recounted his long, winding, unlikely tale of redemption and recovery.
There’s no path from the depths of that pit to our booth at McDonald’s. “But God…”
I’m not the magic happens guy. I believe God acts with purpose and plan, even when I can’t see it. I believe Jesus walked with this man through every trial and struggle and reached into his heart at just the right moment. I believe He sent people into his life to guide and encourage him on the long, difficult journey from darkness into light…a journey he couldn’t have accomplished on his own.
It’s the story of RELENTLESS GRACE. And I don’t know how it works.
Joseph spoke to his brothers after they sold him into slavery, abandoned him, left him for dead.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
It’s why we do all of this, the writing and bike riding and fundraising and all the other things. We do it because we believe we’re part of a story bigger than ourselves, a story that makes no sense if you try to draw a path from where we were to where we are.
We come together as a community in a spirit of shared sacrifice around a common purpose. We work together and trust God for the outcome.
I don’t know how it all works.