Sunday, September 23, 2018

Ice Cubes

 

In the last few months there have been multiple deaths in our community. Sometimes when I am at our Gathering in Glebe Park, or in our Drop In space, I still expect to see these friends walk in and interact with us again. I find it difficult to stop thinking of them as part of our community. Yesterday I opened the freezer to get some ice cubes to put in the jug of cordial for lunch. I used the last of the pre made cubes, and as I did this job I suddenly remembered one of our men who just passed away. He used to come in talking a mile a minute, and help himself to the freezer. He often refilled our ice cube tray from the sink, and I realised that these cubes I was about to use were probably made by him. These ice cubes were the last ones he would ever make for us.

I don’t have an emotional attachment to these ice cubes, and if I tried to take them home they would only melt on me. I do however, have an attachment to our people and our community, and I think this is why I find it hard to believe that my friend will never return.  My heart is to see the people we serve at Drop In come to be fruitful members of our community, using the gifts God gave them to enrich the community around them. Philippians 3:17-4:9 talks about our citizenship being in heaven. Here at Missionheart, we are privileged to be able to view people as God made them to be, not what they are now. I am aware that many of the people we have through our front door are addicts, cheaters and thieves in the eyes of the world. I think that some of the more streetwise people who have lunch with us view me as naive – someone who doesn’t know who these people really are. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know that I get to see people on their best behaviour. I know that people stay away when they are doing badly, and come when they feel they can present their best selves. I know that the whispering in the corner is someone setting up a deal. I know who is on ice, and who is hiding a bottle down their pants. I know the standover man without a shirt, I know who sleeps around to get a roof over their head. I know there is a lot I don’t know.

I also know that Jesus views these failures with a gracious heart. I know that He would rather concentrate on whatever is true, noble, right, lovely and admirable about my community members. I know that he would call out into the open the gifts He put into these people when they were made in the womb. Our people are kind. Our people are brave. Our people want to help each other. Did you know that the gambling addict in the government flat is helping combat homelessness more than I am? The amount of people who are put up by others who have almost nothing is equal to or more than the amount taken in by shelters. My friend who has been arrested for assault is the same man who regularly has someone staying with him for months at a time because they either can’t get a housing flat, or are too traumatised to go through the onerous application process at the moment. One of our friends who passed away recently was there at Drop In the day another of our people had a breakdown. This friend gently and calmly tried to remind the lady bashing her head against a window that she was loved and it would feel better if she talked about it. They followed her down the driveway and next to cars roaring up from the underground carpark did my job for me, kindly ignoring the abusive words and rubbing her back. The kicker in this story is that 5 minutes later my friend decided to go see their dealer, leaving me to deal with the unwell lady, and the police.

I’m not naive; I simply choose to see the Jesus music. What do you focus on? The kindness or the addiction? What did Jesus focus on? Forgetting what is behind I strain on to see the gifts of our people realised in our community. Imagine if the evangelist of heroin became an evangelist of the Gospel. Imagine if my friend was free of addiction and could love our community without being pulled away in the time of their greatest distress? I pray and eagerly await: “a saviour from there (heaven), the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body”. (Philippians 3:21).

I see the drug addiction, how could I not notice that your beautiful smile only has half the teeth of a year ago? I also see the gift of prophecy that God has given you for our community. I choose to focus on the benefits I see you bringing to my community, and for the rest, “my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:19) That’s why I’ll miss you if you pass away. The ice cubes were just a symbol of the contribution you had to give.

James 

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