Friday, October 19, 2007

Weak and Strong

I got off the train at Flinder's St, but I hadn't finished doing the Sudoku puzzle. I really wanted to finish it before heading into the city, so I leaned against a bin at the station platform and kept plugging away at the numbers. Ten minutes later it was complete and, feeling a bit guilty that I had wasted some valuable time, I tossed it in the bin and headed off. Just as I got to the exit gate I ran into Matt. Quite a surprise. I hadn't seen him for months and he told me he was now in some accommodation north of the city and rarely came into the CBD anymore. He was going well and we had a good talk for a few minutes before he headed off, and he asked me to keep praying for him. After he left I thought about how delaying to finish the Sudoku puzzle had worked out in my favour..

A new Grace:
Early on in the year I found my motivation to keep being 'full on' for God waning. After three months of concentration and dedication some of my old habits started to inch their way back into my lifestyle. I started cruising the Internet for fun, ate some junk food, miss spent some money and was 'sleeping in' too long in the mornings. Oh yeah, and I discovered Sudoku. These were not necessarily sinful things, but they were distractions from the mission and I got depressed about it. Change needs to come from within and while you can strip away the negative/distracting things from around you (eg. since being on the streets I hadn't spent any time playing computer games) this only helps so much. The Bible says 'if your eye causes you to sin then pluck it out..' Well you could pluck out your eye but when you hear a friendly female voice you might start imagining what sort of body would go with it..

Stripping away the the things that detract from your relationship with God does help, to a point, but not completely. So after a few weeks of feeling down about myself I prayed to God about it. I asked him that whenever I was weak in my resolve that he would use my weakness for his glory, that he would display his strength when I couldn't..

Well it was like I found a secret door, or something, and as soon as I prayed (walked through it) everything changed immediately! Every time I was weak or heading in a weak direction I had a great positive outcome for God! One Sunday night I stayed over at a friends house, and instead of getting up and heading into the city with him, around 8am the next morning, I slept in until 11am. I got up and went to the station, feeling bad about sleeping in, and there on the platform was Ethan, the gang leader who cleaned St.Paul's steps with me but then disappeared until now (a couple of months later). When I got bored and went to the Internet, I never got there as I would bump into people on the way. When I was hungry and went to buy junk food I would bump into someone else hungry and end up buying the food for them.

One night I was sitting in the Alfred Hospital Emergency Department with someone, after riding there in the ambulance with them, and didn't leave until 1:30am. By that time all the public transport had finished and so I determined to walk back to the shed, about 2hrs away. On My way back through the city I bumped into a couple of guys and, after saying hello, I discussed God with them for and over an hour. They were still chatty by then but I had been up for two days straight, and was really tired, so I excused myself and walked on. Only one block later I bumped into a homeless guy I had just started making friends with and he also wanted to talk about God. So we chatted for half an hour, long enough to be friendly and not rude, before I made an excuse to keep going, as I was feeling exhausted by this time. In fact I didn't want to bump into anyone else and so I went up an alley to the city back streets to avoid anymore meetings. Of course in the next back street was another street guy in a wheelchair that wanted to talk and pray about the death of his father. I gave him a Bible and we read some passages together (there is really not much comfort or hope you can give someone for the death of a non Christian family member..). When we later went our separate ways it was 4am and I really was to tired to keep walking home for another hour (with the chance God was going to lead me to someone else..) so I decided to use most of my remaining funds and I hailed a taxi, slumping into the back seat, eyes wafting across the buildings as they sped by, on my exit out.

I have since had many many situations where God steps in to use my weakness for his glory. And yes I am careful not to be slack as a policy. I still always trying to do my best, it's just when I fall short God steps in and does good things. So when I am weak, he is strong, and I have learnt to trust further in him as a friend.

I used to think that Grace was about Jesus being a safety net. That once you were a Christian, it didn't matter if you muck up from time to time, as Jesus takes the penalty for you. But now I see Grace as an active relationship with God where he works with you for good outcomes. He not just carrys you across the sand, when you are too tired to walk, but he actively builds beautiful sandcastles along the way, as well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tree of Knowledge

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in St.Vincents Hospital with a homeless man who was being treated for intoxication and injury's after a street brawl, where I had ended up calling the police to break it up, before taking the guy in for treatment. The nurses were surprisingly friendly and openly chatting with the guy about the fight and his troubles. As I was sitting by his bed, along came another street guy, who had been in for treatment for a seperate matter. He stopped to say hello and then let us know that when we leave, to come by and meet up with him and some others, 'up at the Tree of Knowledge'.. What?? The Tree of Knowledge(Gen 2:9, 2:17) was here in Melbourne? He described it's location and I later went for a look..

As I stood there I wondered if there was more significant meaning to Jesus's resisting the desert temptation of the devil to turn the stones into bread? In the Garden of Eden, Eve and Adam were tempted by food (from the tree of Knowledge), man fell, and the garden was closed.. Now Jesus in the desert resisted the temptation of food, man was restored and paradise was opened to all those that believe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Singing is more than singing

Status Update: I am still living in the garden shed and have been fairly busy and enjoying the street ministry. I don't have much money or possessions (the car in the previous post was borrowed from my girlfriend while she was away) although I have accepted a few gifts on the basis they are 'ministry supporting' gifts, such as an mp3 player (for music and sermons) and a mobile phone (leading to Eco Paul's vexation; now questioning my whole journey and experience). [My number is 0401495620].

Thursday Morning:

This morning I stopped by De Paul House (a detox center) where I am checking the waiting list daily, for a friend who wants to get off alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately these centers have waiting lists of a couple of weeks, which is frustrating when you meet a homeless addict crying in the street because he wants help 'right now'. I am hoping he hasn't changed his mind by the time a bed becomes available.. and once he is out, what then?

Then I thought about what God wanted me to do next? I walked down the street to the Brotherhood of St Laurence and and got out my mp3 player and start to sing along with some worship songs. There has been a lot of pain and brokenness coming out of their Coolibah Center (an aged drop in center) due to Christianity no longer being a part of the way things are managed and operated there. So I thought I'd bring a bit of Godly love back, by some Christian singing, outside.

After an hour a thin smelly addict came by (from the Fitzroy Health Center just a bit further down) and she sat down near me. Then she started crying, whining and banging herself against the footpath, in some sort of semi fit. I went over and asked if she was ok, but she hardly gave a response. So I sat down next to her and kept on singing. She settled down and continued to sit and listen for the next half hour, before she got up and walked away. I was reminded a bit of the story of David singing to King Saul to sooth him in his time of trouble.

I stood up and went back to my spot, continuing to sing, and a delivery driver walked by and encouraged me to keep going, he liked it. Later another man stopped by and asked me what I was doing (generally). When I mentioned helping a guy get into detox he smiled and said he was an ex-addict that had gone through detox and then a Christian rehabilitation program out in Albury called Granya House. It runs a six to twelve month program and he was now an advocate for it. He lifted up his top and pulled some brochures out from where he kept them tucked up in the front of his pants and handed me a few. We exchanged numbers, shook hands, and went back to business :)

All up I sung along with 52 worship songs over a 4 hour period, and then headed back into the city. I had pressures to be elsewhere this morning but I am learning the benefits of taking some time to sit still and listen to God, and then perhaps step out of my routine, and try something new.

Update: Just wanted to add Ephesians 6:19 "Speak to one another with psalm, hymns and spiritual songs."