Sunday, March 17, 2013

On the Bus


Although though I frequently used the bus system in Italy, I'd never ridden the bus here in Austin.  However, dreading the impossible task of parking downtown during SXSW, we took the bus.  I was nervous.  Until I saw A. at the bus stop.  Although she's not one of my students, she lives on the ranch where I teach.  I felt a wave of relief wash over me when I saw her.  She takes the bus to her part-time job several times a week.  She even has to change buses half way through.  She would be able to tell us the details we didn't know.  I peppered her with questions while we were waiting: do you pay the driver?  No, you put your money in the machine.  I asked more questions on the bus.  Where's the button you push to request a stop?  It's the long strip behind your head.  And she made me feel safe.

atmtxphoto.com
I was really overwhelmed by this thought.  Here I was, the one who supposedly ministers to, provides for, serves people like A., people with "special needs" and I was needing her.  The roles had changed.  And I was really, really thankful at that moment to taste that.  To have a "least of these" be greater.

I recently dove into the book of Leviticus, listening to Kevin DeYoung's very detailed sermon series from several years back.  He pointed out a verse that I skimmed over: 
Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 9:14)
He talked about how that verse shows the sweetness of God's care for people.  The deaf person will not hear you curse them.  The blind will not see you.  You could get away with it.  But God is watching.  Oh, what love for those who get ignored, pushed aside, forsaken.  An amazing love that protects and cares.

I get teary eyed every time I think about it.  My sister.  My nephew.  My students.  Societal underdogs.  They are not underdogs in this amazing upside down love that streams out of God's holiness and justice.  It's the love that takes care of the orphans and widows.  It's the love that speaks out for those who have no voice.  It's the love that says the last will be first.

Recently I met someone who counsels families with special needs kids.  She asked me how I turned out the way I did - not bitter and resentful growing up in a home with two special needs siblings... what did my parents do to keep my heart from hatred?

It first has to do with the Holy Spirit and His sanctifying work in realizing God's soverignty.  Both in me and in my parents.  Then, I think the biggest human factor, is that to my parents - it was just normal.  Well, at least they made me feel like it was normal.  It wasn't a heartache or a disappointment.  It wasn't an inconvenience or an obstacle course that stressed our lives out.  It wasn't what defined our family.

Maybe there were hints of those things in my parents.  Questions.  Grief.  But, it was never passed on to me.  And sure there were adjustments that needed to be made.. travel plans carefully chosen, maybe more doctor visits.  And even in me, my sin set was pricked certain ways - but still my sin belonged to me.

But, over all, we were normal.  Or I thought we were normal.  I fought with my sister.  I laughed at my brother.  And now, I can't tell you how much my students delight me.  Yes, there are days when I wake up grumpy from a bad dream, and my guys are a little wound up - and my patience is very unloving... On those days, I am so thankful I get to cling to Christ's love for me.

But, on the bus, it was something different.  Something I don't know if I've ever experienced.  And I hope I can remember that flip-flopped gratitude when I lead our residents in worship today.  That I am taking them to the throne of God... these dearly loved, dearly guarded, dearly cherished children of God.





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