When my kids were young they would often play a game called Opposites Day. During this particular day, whatever they said was actually the opposite of what is true. This was really just a way of trying to catch the other sibling- kind of a trap. Really just a kid’s game. But I think that in actuality, it is more than just a game.
This past Saturday I headed downtown to a ministry where Kathy and I have been serving for the past five or so years. We get up early each Saturday and pick up surplus baked goods and head downtown to distribute food to the needy. I can attest that it is tough some Saturdays to head downtown. Yes, sleep and comfort are issues, but the work can be frustrating and unnerving. We see some moments that make the whole thing question what you are doing. The need is overwhelming and you can’t be unaffected by palpable feeling of hopelessness that hangs in the air. We have also seen some pretty ugly situations. Tension from actions viewed as unfair. Deep neighborhood wounds. Indescribable family dysfunction. Crazy stories of pain that you struggle to untangle in your mind. One thing is for sure. You can’t keep score here. It will drive you crazy. You simply give and let God take care of the rest.
Amidst all of this, is the heart. We have made great friends and have had the privilege of living our lives with them. Each week we share and get updates. Victories and failures. We have seen it all. Stories of success and stories of death. Sometimes the reality is just too much to carry. We try to help but we are not in it. No matter how we try to step into their shoes we are not really with them. We try to get there, but cultures and lives are so different that the gap really can’t be crossed. So we meet in the middle each Saturday. A circle between two circles and we do what we can. Anything more is just cultural arrogance. The two crazy assumptions are that we can truly understand what is going in the tough areas of the city while they can understand what it’s like to have a servant’s heart in suburban America.
This Saturday, I was leading a walk that we take each week through the neighborhood. We carry bags of groceries and hand them out as the Lord leads us and we pray for the families and the neighborhood. The groceries have always been the minor item. When we approach folks in the neighborhood and start conversation and ask if they would like prayer, they will open up and share what’s going on in their lives. This has lead to relationships as we return each week and visit with the same folks regularly. This Saturday, I suggested that we visit a lady named Vera who lives on the outskirts of our walk, yet is always a treat. Vera is a grandmother and takes care of her family although she has very modest means. We knocked on her door and waited. After a few minutes, she came out and her face lit up in delight. We hadn’t made it to her house in a while, probably several months. She quickly caught us up on what was happening with her and her family. She pains for her family and their struggles. You can feel her pain as she describes her family update. Yet, she refuses to stay there. She immediately turns the story to the day- this day. She thanks the Lord for the blessing that this day brings. She is thankful that we have visited her. She radiates real love. It makes you tingle. Not the polite kind of stuff. The deep love of the Father.
Vera loves to pray. We generally pray as we make our way through the neighborhood but at Vera’s house we want her to pray. So she offers and we smile and nod yes. Vera breaks into a powerful prayer- thankful and a prayer of a grateful heart and worship. None of this is the I want- I need kind of prayer. This was a celebration of life. Then she shares something new. Vera breaks into song and sings a portion of her prayer to her Father. The Spirit is thick. He is here. She finishes her prayer and a bird begins to sing. Vera shares that God loves music. I agree with her, sharing that even the birds sing to Him.
So what happened? It was Opposites Day! We set out to help bless others and instead we were blessed. We left Vera and we all were visibly uplifted. This is what we needed. A refill. A reminder that He is always there and He is always faithful. The Bible says that he sings over us. He knows every hair on your head.
Thank you for the song of our lives. Thank you for the birds singing each morning. Thank you for Vera and her heart for her Father and her family.
Remember to sing today. No matter how hard it is. It’s Opposites Day!