It was early Saturday morning when our doorbell rang. I was almost on my way out the door anyway, and opened it to receive a face full of alcoholic fumigation. “Buddy” was looking for his friend, and this was his friend’s house… and who was I?!
We chatted for a bit about mundane things like personal I.D. and street addresses, and I walked him to the sidewalk. It was when I brushed past him to scrape the ice off of my car windshield that he started getting aggressive.
“You gonna hit me here, in front of all these people?” He sneered.
I stood there watching him weave back and forth like a ship in the perfect storm, and for a second with eyebrow arched, I thought about the pros and cons of a pugilistic response. In some respects it was the more appealing option. For one thing there were no people, and for another, even my kindhearted, gentle wife could have dropped this drunk faster than a can of Coors Light at a Budweiser convention.
Alas, my children were peeking out from under the living-room blinds, so I let it pass. I locked my car, and stood guard on the front lawn while he went back to bang on the front door of my house. My wife and kids remained safely behind the locked door while we all waited for the police to come.
In-between his fits of “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blown your house down”, I had the opportunity to help him light a cigarette, and he asked me all clandestine-like if I wanted to get high.
Just another classy morning, making friends in suburbia.
So a day later, I’m wondering if I handled the whole situation in a saintly manner. Was it Christian enough for me to simply not clean his clock? Did he see Jesus in me when I tried to strike a flame with his zippo? Does he understand that I can see past the vagrant, and that I hope someday he stops self-medicating long enough to start searching for the Answer to the questions he’s obviously afraid to ask himself?
All I can figure is that these are the situations that you have to prepare for in advance. There isn’t really time when life’s inebriated surprises come knocking, to decide how best to react. Our knee-jerk reactions to the unexpected will come out of whatever character we have been fostering in the quiet moments.
The truth is, whether I’m a Christian or not, I need God’s grace just as much as Buddy. It was through grace that I even started on this journey, and grace will finish it. Maybe in some whirlwind of Providence, Buddy and I will finish it side by side.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good..” Titus 2:11-14
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