I’ve been really flat the last couple of days.
Do you ever run into several days (maybe weeks) when you have no energy? Eventually something happens to bring me up to normal again. Other times I may be flying high and something happens to bring me back down to earth.
It seems many times life is the greatest stabilizer. If we’re too high or low, eventually life brings us back to center. I think that’s what we call in the United Methodist Church “prevenient grace.” It simply means God’s grace is going ahead to prepare the way to God. God is busy working to bring us to where we need to be.
The Rev. Dr. William H. Willimon shared a story in the publication, Pulpit Resources. At a chapel service, one of his students told of his opportunity to work with the Rev. Tony Campolo, an evangelical sociologist who had directed a program of evangelism in the inner city of Philadelphia.
The young man said, “I was so scared. I walked to a terrible looking building, went up a flight of stairs. Everything was dark. Smelled bad. But I could hear a baby crying upstairs. I walked through the darkness toward the sound, knocked on the door of the apartment.”
“Who is it?” said a loud voice from behind the door. A woman, smoking, holding a naked baby, peered out at me from behind the door.
“What do you want?” she asked coldly.
“Hello,” I said, “Er, uh, I want to tell you about Jesus.”
With that, she started cursing me. She cursed me out of that door, all the way down the hall, down a flight of steps and out on the sidewalk.
I just sat down there on the curb in front of the building and wept. Then I asked God for help. I walked down to a grocery store, walked in and looked around. My eyes fell on a box of disposable diapers and I also bought a pack of cigarettes. I went back to the apartment house, back up the stairs, back up to the apartment.
“Who is it? What do you want?” said the voice. Shaking all over, I held out the cigarettes and the box of diapers.
“Come in,” she said. I put one of the diapers on the baby. She smoked one of the cigarettes. I spent the rest of the day in that apartment playing with the baby, listening and talking. Later she said, “Let me ask you something. What’s a boy like you doing in a place like this?”
I told her everything I knew about Jesus. It took me about 10 minutes. Then she said, “Pray for me and my baby.”
I prayed. Then I left, went out and met the bus. That evening, I prayed again to Jesus saying, “Thank you, God. I went out to share Jesus and found Jesus. I went out to share the good news and received the good news.”
Prayer: Our Lord, we are glad you are working in the midst of life to help us find the way we need to go. Amen.
The Rev. Dan Safarik retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at email@example.com
The Rev. Dan Safarik serves St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lincoln. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org