A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Sometimes You Need to Be "That Guy"

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Nobody wants to be THAT guy.
But what if THE guy tells you to be THAT guy?

The storm was quickly rolling in.
It was the type of storm that ushered us from fall to winter.
In a matter of 90 minutes,
the temperature would drop 30 degrees,
the winds would gust up to 35 miles per hour,
and the rain would come in waves.

Any remaining leaves on trees would be swept away
and the residue warmth of autumn transformed into winter chill.

I spent the first half of the afternoon outside in T-shirt and shorts,
battening down anything that could blow away.

Just as I was ready to go inside for the day,
I heard my dog barking.
He was focused towards the base of my driveway.

I looked down to the road and saw a gentleman with backpack,
walking roadside.

My first emotion was pity.
But pity was not what was needed.

I can’t say that I physically heard the voice of God,
but I heard His instruction imprinted on my spirit….

Help him.”

I am no different than anyone else.
I have reservations about reaching out to strangers.
The “what ifs” swarmed through my mind,
but the voice was speaking calmly to my spirit.

Help him!”

I jumped into my car, 
along with my dog who had heralded the need.

I pulled up alongside the sojourner, rolled down the window and said,
Sir, I saw you walking along the road. Can I help you?”

The winds were picking up and dark ominous clouds were quickly erasing the warm sunshine of the day.

“I’m okay,” he said.

I asked him his destination and told him that he was traveling in the wrong direction.
He was a young man, likely early thirties,
and he was about to be punished by nature in a matter of minutes.

I explained to him the severity of the impending storm
and invited him to get inside the car.

He was intending to walk to his father’s home,
which by his description, was a 25 minute trip by auto.

I asked him, “Would you let me take you there,
I’d be glad to do it.”

Perhaps he trusted me 
as I was quickly trusting him,
or perhaps the sudden gust of cold wind reasoned with him.

I had 25 minutes to learn his story.

His name was Tim.
He had been on his own for 2 ½  years,
2 ½ years since he had seen his father.
2 ½ years since he walked away from his auto mechanic job,
and from a family that had been ripped apart by divorce and drugs.

When given the choice,
he decided that being on his own was better.
And so, he had traveled the country,
much of it by hopping on rail cars.

After the divorce, Tim’s  father had moved to the region.
Tim would call him occasionally,
the last call was a request to come and see his father
before he moved on again.

For the past week, Tim had been living without his tent and sleeping bag
having left it on a railcar as it moved away.

I gasped.
I had just put a sleeping bag in the back seat of my car
the previous day.
I told him it was now his.

The rain started to hit the windshield
as he turned and asked me,
Why are you helping me?”

I told him the truth as I knew it,
God told me to help you,
because you matter to God.”

He was silent for a while. 
I have learned to respect silence,
as it is often the best preacher.

He explained to me that his dad would not be off work for a couple of hours,
and that he planned to meet him at a local restaurant.

I knew the location of the restaurant.
When we arrived, I said,
I haven’t eaten all afternoon,
I would enjoy eating some dinner with you while you wait.”

People who are without home and meal
often don’t like to let you know how hungry they are.
But because I was also hungry,
we enjoyed a good meal and good conversation.

Tim also had another hunger.
It is the same hunger that we all have…….
to know that we all matter to Jesus and to others.

As he was drinking a cup of post dinner coffee,
Tim’s eyes widened.
I knew that behind me stood his father.

The hug was long and genuine.
I wished them well, left them to their reunion,
and returned to my car and my dog, the herald angel of the day.

On the trip home the rain changed to snowflakes,
and I could only pray that Tim’s life would change for the better.

There is nothing that I did that day that I take pride in.
All I did was be THAT guy,
the guy that God used to speak to another one of his children.

Most of us don’t wish to be THAT guy or gal.
Joseph wasn’t exactly thrilled with the news that Mary was with child.
Scriptures tell us that Mary’s first response was to be troubled.
The shepherds first response to the angelic host was to be terrified.

But God had the same message for each of them………..
“Be not afraid.”

I know many people who live in fear.
Fear of strangers, fear of tomorrow,
fear of death,  fear of the unknown,
fear of being asked to be THAT guy.

As far as the human condition goes,
the world really isn’t much different than it was 2,000 years ago.

Bad things still happen to good people,
violence still raises its ugly voice,
and life, for many, is still a difficult odyssey.

What also remains the same is that God promises His peace.

That peace is not promised to all,
just to those with whom God is pleased,
just to those who are of good will,
just to those whose hearts are reconciled to God,
just to those whose lives express the will of God to others,
just to those who are THAT guy.

This advent take time to ponder……
are you THAT guy?

If not,
God has at least three words for you,
Be not afraid”

Maybe six words,
Be not afraid to be THAT guy”

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased
                        Luke 2:14

1 comment:

bthomas said...

Thank you for this post.