A few weeks ago, I was at the Wal-Mart in Athens, Texas. I was buying slingshot bows, water balloons, and hamburger meat because I am an adult, and at one point, I knocked over a box and was picking up the contents. I should note, I was wearing a deep blue t-shirt that said STAFF on the back, and khaki shorts. So I should not have been surprised when a customer asked me if I knew where flip-flops were.
I put the box on the shelf and said, “I sure do!” and abandoned my cart to walk her over to the flip-flops display. As we were walking, she noticed the front of my shirt. It reads “Project H*O*P*E.” I bought it at Goodwill a few years ago because my rule with camp clothes is that if I need to, I will just throw them away if they become too gross. And I call them camp clothes, but I wear them all the time. (I’m wearing the Project H*O*P*E shirt right now, in fact.) When the customer saw my shirt, she said, “You don’t work here.” And I replied, “No ma’am.”
“Then why did you help me?” she asked.
“Because you needed help.” I replied. She kind of laughed, said thanks, and started perusing ladies’ flip-flops. As I worked my way back to my cart—thankfully, not restocked—I was stopped three other times. And I tried, the three other times, to help other people. It’s a silly story, and not one of much consequence, but it popped into my head this morning. I’ve been chewing on what Pope Francis said months ago, “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.” And I realize I pray for peace, I pray for community, I pray for grace. So I have to go out and do the hard work with it.
After the events of last week, in the midst of another divisive election cycle, in the hottest time of the year—whatever you want to call a time of tension and separation—we are called to do justice, be inclusive and embrace diversity. All of those are not default actions. We can’t just watch justice happen naturally, nor see people like and unlike us swarm into our lives. We have to work for it, and it can be a challenge and certainly, it can be a blessing.
So this is a friendly call to action—pray for change in this world, and then go be the change. And if you need help, support, encouragement or a partner in it, drop me a line. I’d love to hear your stories and be a part of them, too.
This Sunday, we continue The Godfollower and we hear from the remarkable, self-editing and rather bold shepherd himself, David, as he recounts the slaying of the brutish giant Goliath. It’ll be something, surely. And I think my cold’s receded enough that I—sorry, David—can get through without coughing. We’ll find out Sunday! I look forward to seeing you then.
P.S. My mom came to visit me this weekend, and she came to church. She always laughs because y’all are so affirming of me to her. “Do they think I think you’re a bad minister?” she asked me on the way to lunch. I had to think fast—did I ever indicate that? No, surely not. “We’re all still glad we’re together,” I told her. And it’s true. Thanks for your constant community and hospitality, Midway Hills!