A Slice of Raw Life

 

Allow me to share with you a slice of raw life, that I encounted when I attended the funeral of Danny.  A moment when the frills and thrills of life are stripped away to a moment in time when raw life is seen in the corridors of death.

Danny was merely an acquaintance.  I had met him very briefly a few years ago.  But he had shown a kindness to my son, had gone way out of his way to give him a lift back home – and for that reason I had decided to attend his funeral
Apart from being kind, Danny was also a very unlikely saint, but a saint nevertheless.
I knew very little about him, except that he had had a very hard life.
So it was with intense interest that I listened to the eulogies of some of the people who had been influenced by his life.

The Pastor spoke of how he had known Danny for a short while.  Had spent much time, in the last days of his life with him, and learned that Danny’s whole life was nothing but rejection.  He had known rejection so well.  He had grown up as a child being a beggar on the streets, and found his food in dustbins. He became a drug addict, and ended up in a Rehabilitation Centre.
When he joined “normal life’ he took Kelven under his wing, gave him a home, a safe haven, and an education.
Danny had a Prison ministry, but  when he was approached by the Correctional officer to temper the gospel message, Danny gave it up, as he was not prepared to dilute the Gospel of Jesus .

The lady from the Compassionate Hands Shelter, spoke softly but gently about Danny.   How she had been an addict and on the streets, wanted to take her own life, then met Danny – an unlikely helper, who walked the walk with her through her pregnancies.  Today she is free from drugs, is raising two children, and helping to run the Shelter – all because Danny took the time to love her unconditionally through the hard times.

Kelven, Danny’s ‘adopted son’ spoke briefly.   But those of us listening to these testimonies of his life,  were all choked up, because of the emotions that ran so deep in Kelven.   Kelven spoke of how he had been in prison, and when he came out, it was Danny who took him in, and gave him a home.   Five times he had tried to commit suicide,  but it was Danny’s strong and unconditional love that pulled him through those moments.  Danny’s strict and sometimes harsh ways never faltered at loving him.
“He never judged me, he just loved me unconditionally”  were Kelven’s final words on Danny.  I think if some of us could sob out loud we would have done so, but being polite restrained the 100 tears that wanted to flow at such a love, and to comfort Kelven.

The lady from the Bible study group said that Danny may have been a rough diamond, but that they understood that some of his crustiness was just a protection from all the pain inside him.    He was a student of God’s Word, and loved to share his knowledge with all who would listen.    And he made time to listen to those who needed to speak, he made time to be available to those who needed to talk.

It was a simple, but beautiful service.   Full of respect and dignity for one of their own, who knew the hard life of the streets, at rehab and shelter centres – the places where life in the raw occurs.
There were many people at the funeral, for one who was so humble and almost ‘insignificant’, but so great in the work of the kingdom of God.  God’s ways are not our ways, that’s for sure.
There were people from different walks of life, but particularly from the many broken lives, who knew and loved Danny.
Jesus was one of the esteemed dignitaries present at that funeral.  This was so evident when hands were raised in praise, as we sang and cried through that beautiful song – Great is thy Faithfulness, – words that broken lives attest to so well.

It was a humbling experience, tasting life in the raw.  Being in the company of those who had to face God through their own personal hell.  Being in the invisible presence of God, where everyone and everything is diminished to its own insignificant smallness.  Where love permeates the room.

It made me think how easily we tend to overlook those who are destitute and battling life at the raw edge.
We are so consumed with materialism, pumped up with pictures of the ‘good life’ wanting the niceties from life,  that we become oblivious of any other kind of life, little realising that  ‘there by the grace of God go I’

A timely reminder from a life lived strong with unconditional love, a life lived through God’s love.   May his tribe increase.
Rest in peace Danny.

Red rose

The Way of Love

 

Love suffers long
and is kind;
love does not envy;
love does not parade itself,
is not puffed up;
does not behave rudely,
does not seek its own,
is not provoked,
thinks no evil,
does not rejoice in iniquity,
but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never fails……

  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

     Red rose

The Secret

Easter Jesus

This is such a sweet picture with such a profound statement.

This time of the year when I go into the shops and am bombarded, and hugely tempted, with chocolate chocolate everywhere I get a sense that Jesus is being neglected and left out of the reason for Easter.   Then when I read in Romans 11:36  For  of  Him and  through  Him and  to  Him are  all things ……  –   how can this be, that we dislocate Him from Easter, and for that matter from our lives ?   He is the pinnacle of God’s story for humanity.
Yes I am beginning to see a story – God’s story – unfolding from the pages of the Scriptures.   God is the author of His story, into which is woven the story of our very own lives –  we all have roles to play and destinies to fill in this  wonderful story – that is if we want to be part of the mystery.  The story, as with any good story, has a beginning a middle and an end – an everlasting end !   In between it is filled with intrigue and mystery, and as we live  we unfold our story into His story – and make up history as it were.

We think that life is just about living, about making ends meet, getting education and showing off how clever we are, or making enough money to be as comfortable as we can.  This life is so much more.  It is a story that will be told and re-told one day.   And to find out about the true meaning of life we have to delve into the Word of God, and there we will discover the secrets and the meaning of this thing we call Life.

This story begins and ends with Jesus.   He is the meaning and the secret to life.   If we miss Him, we just have an existence.  So how can we ignore Him ?   He is part of the mystery of this life.   Its as if there is an invisible parallel life running along side this life, but it is kept hidden, kept a mystery, kept a secret.   And if we want to know more, we have to go and search it out.   God’s story is precious. He is not going to reveal it all at once to all who just pass by.   Much wisdom and power and strength required the making of this Life, it is precious, and it is kept a secret for those who will go and look for it, – and what’s more, it is freely available to all who ask for it !

What is the secret.  Let Colossians 1:15  explain it far better than I can.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.    For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.   All things were created through Him and for Him.
And He is before all things and in Him all things consist.

Jesus Christ is the secret.   Give Him your heart, your story, He gave you His Life.
And that is what Easter is all about – you and God’s love for you – and me !

Enjoy this Easter, enjoy the chocolates and the holidays, but savour the Saviour and taste and see that God is good, so good !

 

LOOKING FOR … LOVE

As February is the month for Love and Valentines and all I decided to go out on a quest and look for love wherever I could find it.

A bag of coppers (small change) were cluttering my cupboard. These I had been saving to give to one of the street people I had come to know. He is George the Carguard, who treads the parking lot at the Post Office in the Village. I stopped the car and George came over to shoo me on, but I said to him “George I have a bag of coppers, would you like them?” “Yes, I like that money” he said, beaming from ear to ear. “Thank you madam,
you are like Jehovah to me”. “Mmm well yes, Amen George” …not quite sure what he had just said. “Today I am going to buy me lots of food from Pick n Pay and eat well”, he said rubbing his tummy. “Well enjoy yourself George” I replied. “Thank you, thank you madam, God bless you”. ” God bless you too George” I said as I drove off. Well the warm glow of that little conversation blew my hair back. I had intended to give a little love and instead was the one who had received a ton more than I gave. George’s response was magnanimous, as it so often is from the African people who have a heart full of love, in spite of their poverty circumstances.

I was looking for a parking spot, impossible in the Village on a Saturday morning, but found one right in front of Woolworths where I wanted to be, to buy some chocolate muffins for Greta my sister-in-law for Valentine’s day. As I came to pay at the till, the attendant beamed “happy Valentine’s day to you”. I felt that warm glow again. But there’s more. As I walked up to my car, a traffic officer was just finishing off the ticket for the car parked next to mine. I scooted in and out of there so fast, with a “thank you Lord for loving me today!”
You can find Love in the circumstances of life, in strange places even in some strange Strangers!

I then took myself off to the Mall about ten blocks away. As I circled for parking I saw a young man with a basket filled with red roses. Yes, you’ve got it right young man, keep the love alive, I thought to myself.
Then on to my shopping errand where I had to stand in a queue almost a mile long and eventually came to an attendant that looked tense and a little grey. As we finished the transaction I just blurted out to her “have a happy Valentine’s day”. Well the grey lifted and I saw sunshine fall its place. “Thank you, I forgot it was Valentine” she said, and I saw her mind make a mental note to remember her loved one today. I glowed again as I walked away. Well enough of this loving people, now its time to love me! I took myself off for a cool green lime milkshake at a restaurant that, if you sit in the right place, you can observe the crowd coming down the escalator of the mall, and take in the crowd of the eating place at the same time. Just sitting quietly watching Life and Love at play, a treat indeed!

Jesus said in Matthew 22:37… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
And in verse 39. And the second is like it: ” You shall love your neighbour as yourself”

Are you looking for Love? …. where did you find Love today? …. where did you give Love today?