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.