The brother who is poor may be glad because God has called him to the true riches.
The rich may be glad that God has shown him his spiritual poverty. For the rich man, as such, will wither away as surely as summer flowers. One day the sunrise brings a scorching wind; the grass withers at once and so do all the flowers—all that lovely sight is destroyed. Just as surely will the rich man and all his extravagant ways fall into the blight of decay. James 1:9-11
So last night, just a few heartbeats after I gleefully finished my last PowerPoint and posted homework assignments on renweb, I got a phone call. From a friend who was at a local pub with a ripping drunk and pretty angry birthday brother and she didn’t know what to do so she called me. And I didn’t know what to do either, but I got in my car and drove on over to the newest hipster beer joint in town.
And I thought it was a little awkward to call someone’s seventh grade English teacher fifteen years later to celebrate a birthday, but he greeted me affably enough, because I changed his life and everything he had was because of me and my great influence. Which was a little disheartening in a very real sense. But I had become fodder for all of his job applications and his grad school applications because when he was in seventh grade he wrote a little computer program to generate weekly vocabulary sentences. I didn’t call him a cheater but I called him brilliant and let him to continue to generate weekly vocabulary sentences and fifteen years later he is writing computer programs and driving fast cars and drinking too much and making too much money, not necessarily in that order.
And another time he had to write a character sketch about someone in the class, and I called him down, according to his drunken memory which in this instance was better than mine, and asked him if he had written his hero character sketch about himself, and that he should not think too highly of himself. And he said he remembered that conversation all of the time as well.
And mostly he was very angry about a god who would invent hell to send all of his friends to for eternity who had not even had a chance to hear about Jesus. And he wanted to spend eternity with his nice friends and not with this mean god. But he really doesn’t have so many friends and every night he drives his fast car home and drinks and plays computer games and goes to bed and gets up and does it all over again.
But he tries to be a nice person. And once he tried to help a homeless person. Well, he tried to pick her up because she was really hot. And to help her. And he tries to be nice to everyone. But the only pictures in his iPhone is his fast car and his two hundred per hour friend.
And even though he wanted to go over to the new downtown bar that they just built below student housing which makes me unhappy just to think about it and don’t even get me started about the immorality of capitalism sucking all those credit cards dry, I took him home to sit by our fireplace and to listen about this mean god a lot more times. And about how I was the most influential person in his life a lot more times. And he remembered my old Mercedes because one time I had driven him home from somewhere.
And he was pretty bogged down about a garbled verse about if you deny me once, I will deny you. And the story about Jesus’ best friend denying him three times on the very night when He needed him most did not really sink in. And he has denied Him a lot more times than three times. Maybe almost seven times seventy times.
And what do you say?
And I said that I hoped that when he woke up in the morning he would start to know that God loved him and was going to chase him down because of this great love. And for God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son Who was lifted up to draw all men unto Himself.
And yesterday’s sermon was about the children that gathered about Jesus to be blessed. And they brought nothing but themselves.
And about the rich young ruler who walked away.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. His story. Of any of our stories.
And Cameron sang his song again yesterday too.
And I will always love you, Even when you feel you walk alone. When you walk away from my love for you, I willl walk along unknown, Til you come home.
And some people cried.
And I think about the emptiness of apartments overlooking Central Park. And the fullness of serving soup to immigrant children in Assisi. And everything in between. And watching the twenty-four hour Happy Song all around the world.
And today I will tuck my lesson plans about days of the year and iambic pentameter and doing a water fast for two weeks to build a well in Africa into my computer bag and head off to my children. And today, like every day, I pray that I will make a difference for eternity. Even when I assign vocabulary sentences for Grudge, Toil, Quench and Pernicious.