Monday, April 13, 2009

the alternative

On Good Friday, Geoff and I watched Seven Pounds on DVD. Geoff fell asleep 1/3 of the way through the film, only to wake up at the end because I was shaking the couch I was sobbing so hard! After telling him that it was honestly the best movie I have ever seen, we decided to stay up until 1:30 am to watch it again. Wow.

I highly recommend the movie to all of you. (Unless you have lost a love one to suicide. In which case, I am so, so very sorry.)

It was the most perfect movie to watch on the day that we remember Christ's sacrifice for us. I wish I could say more without giving anything away. But, I will say that the movie portrays a man who does not know the saving power and forgiveness that is freely given to us through Jesus' death on the cross. He is burdened with guilt and shame and feels that he must remedy his problems on his own.

If we choose to pass up the incredible gift that Jesus gave us, there are alternatives we can choose. We can try all of them in order to make ourselves feel better, to numb the pain, or to try to make amends for our sin. There could possibly be some good that comes out of those alternatives. Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately), everything outside of Christ will end in one thing - DEATH.

The option that God gives us will always result in just the opposite - LIFE. Abundant life--the very best life that God has for each of us. There may be suffering along the way to that life, but it will always bring about good for us and for others.

On Saturday night, Geoff and I enjoyed a rare date night. We set our kids (and their friends) up with our most favorite babysitter and went downtown for a romantic steak dinner. (Loved it!) Afterwards, we decided to stop by a famous doughnut store (for breakfast the next day, of course.)

As we neared the store, we passed several groups of street people just hanging out. My heart was drawn to one gentleman in particular. He had light brown hair, a full beard and amazing blue colored eyes, which also happened to be glazed over from recent drug or alcohol use. He held up a small cardboard sign that read "Hoping to wake up with a hangover on Easter." I caught his eye and I gave him what I hoped was a warm smile.

After ordering our doughnuts, we passed by the man again. This time, he asked me for spare change. Again, I looked him in the eye, gave a sad smile and shook my head, as I kept walking. Each and every step away from him broke my heart. I may have appeared calm on the outside, but instead, my mind and heart were warring against each other.

Although I was dressed up for our date, I desperately wanted to sit down next to these people and talk to them. The problem was that I've never done anything like that and my mind screamed at me how dangerous it was to do so. Or at best, simply "uncomfortable."

I was torn. I'm not sure how Geoff would have responded at the time, but we talked about it afterwards for quite a bit and he did understand the war I was going through. The deep passion I felt in my heart for those desperately broken people, but also the fear that had gripped my mind.

On Easter Sunday, my heart was still aching for my street friend who was seeking the alternative to the cross. I certainly don't blame or judge him. How many times have I sought the alternative. Too many, I'm afraid. How many times have I chosen to numb my pain or avoid life? Too often.

My heart ached because I desperately wanted to find him again. Because, this time, instead of walking by, I would have stopped, looked him in the eye and said,

"Sir, I SEE you.
Sir, I see YOU.
The Maker of the universe SEES you.
He sees YOU.
YOU are loved.
You ARE loved.
You are LOVED."
Because, after all, isn't that all that we are seeking after? To be seen, to be known, to be loved? The greatest news is that we ARE. The saddest news is that too often we fail to realize it.

The man on the street may look different than I on the outside; but, on the inside, aren't all of us humans really the same? My Friend, I may not know you personally, but please know this:

YOU are loved.
You ARE loved.
You are LOVED... the King of the universe. He sees you. He knows you. He accepts you. Just as you are. Just where you are. And I love you, too! :-)

Wouldn't you know that when I picked up where I left off in reading Crazy Love this morning, I was challenged in this very area? Chan wrote that while our prayers for safety, comfort and protection aren't wrong, there may be a better prayer.

He challenges us to instead ask God to do whatever it takes in our life, on our trip, through our journey to bring us closer to Him and glorify Him. Sigh. Suddenly the war between my mind and heart ended. My spirit was again at peace.

I'm desperately praying that you are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE founded upon the victory Jesus Christ had over the cross and over death. He came that we might have life, and to have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Blessings & love,


Becky Ryder said...

Thanks for sharing. I've been there too! I cannot figure out why I'm terrified of getting a possible "Go away". Thankfully God gives us more opportunities to touch others. I pray we're both bolder to reach out!

Dawn said...

Amy, I would soooo love to share those same words with people I see all the time on the street. Thank you sooooo much for sharing that personal thought. I do pray that God gives me the words and the timing to witness and share with strangers or even friends.
Love you sweet friend!!! missing you