Thursday, July 12, 2012

a rare celebration (meet Jim)

But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us…

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

Meet Jim.  Tuesday was his birthday, and there were several things that happened around this special day.  Jim was so excited for several reasons.  I’d like to share with you some of the things that he told me about.

Early this week Jim came to get me and asked me to look at a picture on his computer.  It was of a 20 something year old lady holding a baby.  Jim told me this was his daughter that he hasn’t seen in years and his new grandbaby.  This grandpa was smiling from ear to ear.  Then he told me that the night before he reconnected with his ex-wife as well as recently reconnecting with his daughter

You see Jim was in prison for at least two decades.  His family is more than a thousand miles away and hasn’t been writing or talking to Jim much at all.  So this week was a huge win for this man.  Not only is God rebuilding Jim’s life, but God is rebuilding his family.

Like I said, Jim’s birthday was Tuesday.  As we talked that evening he shared with me that the birthday cake he was given at lunch was the first he had in over 30 years.  It was a simple birthday cake and a simple lunch that many of our folks sharing with Jim.  My wife and I got him a card as well. 

But what touched my heart was something Jim said as I dropped him off at his house that night and that another friend said the next day.  Jim commented that this was the best birthday he ever had and one of the greatest days of his life.  That floored me and made me stop to think.

We didn’t do very much other than provide a meal and spend some time with him.  But this made a difference to Jim.  It made him feel special.  By the way, one of the things that I believe God has called me and our church to do is to throw birthday bashes for the people we get to serve.  What I thought was a little thing was huge to Jim.  I knew this was something that we needed to do, but Jim knew that what happened on this day made Jim know that he is special.

Years ago I read Tony Compolo’s book The Kingdom of God is a Party.  Tony talked about not being able to sleep one night when he was visiting Hawaii.  In the middle of the night he went to an out of the way café.  He met several people there.  One was obviously a prostitute that Tony saw across the counter, and he heard her say that today was her birthday and that she had never had a birthday party.

Tony went to the café owner and asked about the lady.  He learned a few things including when she would return.  During that time Tony went shopping, got a cake and decorations, and right there in the middle of the night, in an out of the way all night dinner this dude threw a birthday party for a prostitute.  Most people would say she wasn’t worthy of the party or of someone doing something special for her.  Tony and my God would disagree.

I feel similarly about my friend Jim.  He has lots of history and lots of baggage in his life including his time in prison, but my God hasn’t given up on me or on this ex-con.  God sees the potential in Jim and loves Him more than any of us will know.

May we be found throwing parties for the people that God loves but others over look.  God will use these simple acts to help people see that they are worthy to God, and that God has lots of great days and hope for their lives.  Would you do something special for an ex-con or a lady most people over look?  God loves people, and He has called us to love the people He loves!

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

1 comment:

Earning a Prophet's Wage said...

I love that book. Campolo is good stuff!

happy birthday, Julie

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