Thursday, May 21, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
The view outside my office window is far from stunning. With a blue garbage can pressed against the window it overlooks the backside of vacant parking lot behind a stained concrete building. To the left sits a small run-down shack with neon poster board stuck in the window and a half-lit sign blinking “fast cash” in Spanish. I often wonder what really goes on inside. It seems strange to me that a business can operate in an empty parking lot and that someone pulling up in an Escalade really needs “fast cash.”
On various occasions a local homeless man can be seen living in the alley (and sometimes the dumpster) adjacent to my window. At any given moment I’ll look up from my computer only to see him “moon walking” and practicing his “air guitar” skills. He has long gray hair and beard to match and is never seen without his oversized sunglasses and a straw cowboy hat. He carries around a small radio propped on his shoulder and dances to the tune of anything that comes his way…and I mean anything! With the music turned up and not a care in the world, this gentleman has often become the entertainment for our entire office. However, last Monday as he “moon walked” in and out of the alley, God spoke to me and made it clear that I was to go and “minister” to this man. The next few minutes of my conversation with God went something like this:
“Isn’t there anyone else around who needs some ministry? What about the cashier at Wendy’s? I’m sure she needs to know You? Or what about the mail man….he is sure to come any minute? I promise I’ll minister to him. Or, I know…what about my boss? I’ll minister to her. She REALLY needs to know you! Please God, I don’t want to learn how to “moon walk” today? Give me anyone….but him.”
With every plea I made, I could hear God whispering “No, Brittney. I want you to talk to him.” I struggled, for what like seemed like an eternity, with God’s request that I go and meet this complete stranger…..a stranger everyone else (including myself) labeled as “crazy.” Maybe they were right….but maybe they weren’t? What if he tried to attack me? What if he was high on drugs? What if he asked me for money, should I give it to him? What would I even say when I walked up to him? I knew what I had to do, but I just needed more time to prepare!
So, like any good Baptist, I decided I needed to eat first and think about it over lunch! I walked to Wendy’s and as I got ready to place my order, it came to me…I could take him lunch. That would be a perfect way to start the conversation! I got myself a chicken sandwich and ordered my “friend” a double cheeseburger, fries, and a coke. As I walked back to my office, I quietly rehearsed my introduction over and over until finally I was standing right in front of him.
“He-e-e-llo, Sir. Are you hungry?” I said.
With his back turned and his “air guitar” in full swing to the Led Zeppelin music blaring through the radio, he didn’t hear me.
Embarrassed and losing any pride I had left , I continued trying to get his attention until finally I found myself leaning over and screaming at the top of my lungs, “HELLO, SIR…ARE YOU HUNGRY?”
At last he turned around. He quickly shut off the radio and apologized for not hearing me earlier. I assured him it was OK and complimented his “dancing” skills, to which he laughed and replied, “thank you.”
One last time, I asked the man again if he was hungry. To my surprise he hesitated, lowered his head and said, “No, I’m fine. I’m not looking for charity, Miss.”
Trying to allow him to keep what dignity he had left, I told the man the cashier gave me the wrong order and that I had some extra food and thought he might like a free meal! After a few seconds, he graciously reached out his hand and grabbed the sack.
With an awkward silence looming in the air, I struggled to come up with another conversation starter and before I knew it, out popped the question I never thought I’d ask, “So, how did you learn to moonwalk?”
What was I thinking? Where on earth did that question come from? Of all things I could have said, and I asked him how he learned to moon-walk? But what came next was even worse.
“Well, come up here on the sidewalk and I’ll teach you how to do it.” He said.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought to myself. “Moon-walking? Me? Here? Right now?”
Looking up at God, I sensed he was laughing at me and that just irritated me even more. Before I could explain how “rhythmically challenged” I was, he had pulled me up on the sidewalk and had already started the first session of “moon walking” for dummies.
As the music continued playing, I soon found that I didn’t care what I looked like and it didn’t matter that I had absolutely NO (and I mean, NO) rhythm….I was having fun! Yes, prideful, too-good-to moonwalk me, was having an absolute blast!
As my “dancing” session ended, and we parted ways, I stood there in shock at what had just occurred over the course of 10 minutes. Here was a man who was dirty, hungry, homeless, living in a dumpster and judged “crazy” by everyone who saw him….but yet, he possessed the one quality I’ve been searching for my whole life….joy! He had joy! I’m sure he has his moments, but today he had a joy in his soul that was contagious….and I’m glad I caught “it,”…even if I had learn how to do the “moonwalk!” I walked that day away realizing that in my selfish attempt to “minister” to someone….it was “me” who needed the ministering!
Since that day, I have not seen my “moon-walking” friend and I’m embarrassed to say that in our short time together I didn’t even get his name. But the lesson he taught me has remained: joy is a choice. Even in our deepest pain joy WILL come if we choose it. For God’s word tells us that in Psalm 30:5 “weeping and morning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”
As you go throughout this week I hope you choose joy, and if you’re finding it hard then go “moon-walking” and the choice will surely be easier!