For many the past few days have been hot, really hot. New York is no exception. The heat, humidity, and uncertainty of having anywhere cool to go to has taken its toll. Strap hangers sweat together on the subway with normal courtesies and patience taking a holiday. Even passing by one another on the street can be an exercise in frustration, domination, and intimidation. The willingness to work together in any way, shape, or form is at a low, even by the worst of New York standards.
As I quietly walked towards dinner, staying in as much shade as I could, I found myself coming face to face with a person wise in the streets. It might seem unfair to categorize him that way. It would except for one reason. I was walking through a neighborhood where I was the odd man out. He wasn’t and he had my respect. He knew where he was going. He understood the rules. He was confident in his next step. I could learn a few things from him.
I caught the sense of his turning around behind me even as we passed. Even as I looked ahead I couldn’t help but turn to see what was going to happen next. I felt a sense of uncertainty, driven for the most part by an odd sense of curiosity. My blinded sight widened as I watched him cross my wake and reach out for an aging, frail old man in a wheel chair. His actions to help someone I hadn’t seen within a few feet of me unfolded as a lesson I didn’t expect to see.
I believe in a compassionate God, engaged in the nuances of life. I also know I’m a long way from realizing the fullness of this compassion. In that moment I knew “the evidence that his sin is removed will be this: He will tear down the alien altars, take them apart stone by stone, and then crush the stones into gravel and clean out all the sex-and-religion shrines.” (Isaiah 27.9b) God’s here ready to help.
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