Saturday, June 3, 2017

Even in the midst of a mess

The place I was living my last two years of university was like taking an upper-level graduate course on navigation through stormy seas.  There were women from all different social circles and world views, and very few who stepped tenderly through that mine field.  Sibling rivalry in all forms looked like child's play, compared to this turmoil.

As far as I knew, I was the only Christian residing there, which placed me not in a realm of isolation but in a wide-open opportunity to love others.  After a year of living there, I was designated as the resident adviser which both paid for my room and placed me on the front lines of the battlefield, pointblank in the midst of squabbling, wounded feelings, and what appeared at times downright war between foes. Trust me.  There is nothing more vicious than vengeance among females.  I did not just pray daily for wisdom;  I continually prayed.  I never knew what a day might bring.

In one instance, food was being pilfered from the small fridge in the second floor lounge.  It didn't seem to matter that people wrote their names on their containers.  Any item seemed to be fair play. The mindset appeared to be, "what is yours becomes mine."  Coming down hard was likely to foster even more rebellion.  "O LORD, guide me."  I chose humor instead.

I merely taped a notice to the door of the fridge: "Certain items in this fridge have been laced with Ex-Lax.  If you take what is not rightfully yours, we will know who you are." The pilfering stopped suddenly and completely.   A bit of grace lingered instead in that space.

Shortly after that, early one morning, one of the renown ringleaders of trouble in that rooming house stopped me by the communal sinks in the bathroom. "We know you are a Christian," she said.  "And we are watching you."

I had no idea.  But I have never forgotten her words, now some forty years ago.  Others are watching, not to see if I am perfect or horribly imperfect, but to desperately know if God is real.  That does not just show when things are good and the skies are crisp blue, but when things go incredibly wrong and the storms don't seem to stop. What does my relationship with God mean then? Does my life look any different? Not to be impervious and detached in the midst of a deep mess, but responsive and living faithfully in it.

...and you shall be
My witnesses in Jerusalem
and in all Judea
and Samaria 
and to the end of the earth.

                 Acts 1. 8

There are no exclusions.  

Even here?  Maybe especially even here,
   strategically placed,
   divinely appointed,
the gospel livestreamed.
Being a witness
     underlies whatever we do,
     influences whatever we do,
               how we do it,
     changes who we are.
The concentric circles of witness
        have no boundaries
and run farther
          and profoundly deeper
than we can ever know.
A witness points to the evidence
      of a life changed forever.
What does that look like
     where I am today?

Excuse me,
   your witness is showing.
Even now.
Even in the midst of this mess.

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