Close Your Eyes

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She left the early morning spin class at Gold's Gym on an endorphin high (the cyclists tell me the high is the reward for the BURNING IN THE THIGHS the last 20 minutes of class). As she pulled out of the parking lot, she noticed – off to her left -- a body stretched out on one of the benches in the nearby shopping plaza. It was a middle-class neighborhood, and one simply did not SEE homeless people -- not walking around and certainly not sleeping on benches outside of The Sushi Place.

The woman hesitated, then looked again. It was an awfully small body for a homeless man…

And it was 6:45 am.

She turned around. She went back.

He was a 14-year-old boy, small for his age. There had been trouble at home, he said, and he was locked out. (He wasn’t specific about what the trouble was.) He had wandered the town through the night; and when he noticed the gas station clock said 5 AM, he lay down on the bench and fell asleep… ---

The woman was standing before me now -- all smooth ponytail, fit form and animated hands -- finishing the story:

“I took him home,” she said, “and I fed him breakfast.”

She paused.

“My husband talked with him for a little while, and then I took him to school. After I dropped him off, I let the school counselor know.”

She looked at me, steady hazel eyes searching my face, and said:

“I mean…was it enough? Was it what you would have done?”

SIDEBAR: I know, right? I am not the bar by which one should measure oneself.  I mean, she wears shirts to Body Combat that say

Not By My Strength But His

and I wear shirts that say

I do Body Combat So I Don’t Choke People

Nevertheless, she was waiting for my answer.

While I struggled for an honest answer to her question, she tipped her head back, closed her eyes and said,

“I mean, I tried to feel what He wanted me to do.”

She meant Jesus, of course.

And looking at the sun on that upturned face, I knew what I wanted to tell you today --

Listen.

OF COURSE you can be an atheist and help a boy on a bench. You can be an agnostic. Or a humanist. Or a JeworMuslimorHinduorBuddhist. Or anything. Or nothing.

Reaching out belongs to ALL of us.

BUT IF

But if you want to know what it looks like when a follower of Jesus tries to decide how to reach out to someone --

Sometimes it looks like a woman, head tipped back, eyes closed, softly saying

“I tried to feel what He wanted me to do.”

When you hang out with Jesus and you need to make decisions -- for yourself or for others -- you try to feel what He wants you to do -- and then you do THAT.

AND JESUS DOESN’T CARE If you mess up. (Trust me. I SHOULD KNOW.)

AND HE DOESN’T MIND That this world Sometimes causes you To doubt His Story Doubt His Presence Doubt. All. Of. It.

JESUS DOESN’T CONCERN HIMSELF With the world's falderal and fiddledeedee

He just wants you to know that He’s here and that He can help you, if you like. He can help you help others too, if you’d like that.

And you experience that – all of that – By closing your eyes and Trying to feel Him there.

And if you DON'T feel Him right in that very moment -- That's okay. Keep your heart and mind open, and He will find a way to reach you in the days to come.

Because if you Reach Out, I assure you -- He will Reach In.

Now. Close your eyes.