First thing this morning, I got an e-mail from Richard. Apparently he reads this blog, and thought I would be interested in something on his. Rick has known he is HIV-positive for seventeen years now. He’s just started blogging some very candid, and very well-written stories of his life.
The February 23rd post is entitled Old Time Religion With a Twist. In his e-mail he said he’s “not a mainstream Christian” — hey Rick, a lot of people who read this are in that category — but thought it would suit our readers. I definitely agree.
In it he describes a time when he was staying at a particular shelter that obviously touched his life in a special way. He describes the minister who founded the shelter:
“… He was a small, short fellow, but he always had a sweet smile on his face. His face looked like it was always in direct contact with God. He beamed and there was a radiance around him that lit up the room when he entered. He was a quiet man and I didn’t really hear him speak often. But I’ll always remember his face and the way he seemed to glow with a radiance I had never seen and to this day have never seen. …It wasn’t anything he said or did, it was purely the radiance about him.”
Rick, what you saw wasn’t that individual so much as you saw Jesus reflected in him. I wish that could be said of me, of all of us; but quite honestly, sometimes we fail to meet that standard; or by the time we’ve got it figured out what God wants us to be, it’s time to check out of this chapter of life and into the next one.
Your story reminded me of a girl I met years ago who was a former winner in the Miss Toronto contest. She got all the perks of winning that, including a new car, but realized the only time she had ever been happy was when she was a child attending a Christian summer camp. She got in her car and drove to where she thought the camp was, and she knew she was close, but never actually found the camp property. She shut off her engine in that place, and asked God to restore to her the closeness she had felt to Him in those days. (And He did, which is how I heard the story.) She recommitted her life to living as a Christ follower.
So many people, maybe even some reading this blog, have had a special moment where they felt ‘connection’ with Jesus Christ. But the busyness of life takes us away from what the church calls a ‘communion’ we are supposed to experience on a daily basis.
There is an inner longing to return to that place. You hear it in songs:
“We are stardust, we are golden; and we’re caught in the devil’s bargain; and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”
For all my readers, I hope you’ll read Rick’s article, and all his blog — here’s the link again — and you’ll pray for him and try to be to others what the people at that shelter in El Paso, Texas were to him.
To Rick, thanks for entrusting your story to me. Today’s the one year anniversary of this blog, and you’ve just reminded me of the good that come when we meet online. The peace of Christ that you experienced at that time is available to you again today. Immerse yourself in what Jesus said and did in the Gospels and allow those stories to come alive right where you are. Determine to live in the truth they present. Then, reach out to Jesus in prayer and ask him to fill you with His Spirit so that you can experience that same love, and radiate that same joy to others. “As freely as you have received, now freely give.”