It is Tuesday and I am driving in the rain. Driving in the rain is not one of my favorite things to do. In fact, it is one of my least favorite, especially when I have a good distance to drive. Three and half hours to go and I am already tired and sick and medicated. Sounds like a perfect storm, in a not-so-good way. Rain drops and the rhythmic slap of the windshield wipers play a lullaby that I can hardly resist. Listening to Faulkner’s Hamlet is not doing anything to keep me awake.
Just south of Chattanooga, I pull off at the Lookout Valley exit and find a place to park the truck. I am having to work way too hard to keep my eyes open. The rain keeps falling as I relinquish the need to keep my eyes open.
There are worse things to do than sit in a dry, warm truck on a wet and cold autumn day. Not that it is that cold, but I imagine if you were out in the weather and getting wet you would soon be miserable. After ten or so minutes, with my eyes closed, I fill up the truck, purchase a cold drink and I am on the road again. Shelter in a storm is a good thing.
You have been that shelter this week for the families who are our guests while we hosted the Family Promise Interfaith Hospitality Network. Each of those families have their own unique story. Yet, they share one thing in common — they each reached a point where they could no longer keep their eyes open. Life had gotten to the point where they could not manage all that needed to be managed. The disappointments and the defeats were piling up, and the successes and the victories were scarce.
Sitting in my truck, I thought of those families. I wondered where they would be if there were no churches networked together to provide shelter for them. Perhaps they would have found some other place to stay, some other way to get back on their feet. But I don’t know that for sure. Perhaps they would have been alone with their children in this autumn rain, wet to the bone and worried about supper.
How many times have you read Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble?” How many times has this verse come to your mind when you were dealing with a difficult situation in your life or in the lives of those you love?
This week you lifted these words out of scripture and brought them to life. With the love of God in your heart and the call of Christ on your lives, you put flesh and bones to these holy words. Just as God has been refuge and strength for you in times of trouble, you were used by God this week to be refuge and strength to these families in their time of trouble. Scripture is never more real, more alive, or more true than when it is seen and demonstrated, rather than merely heard or read.
I have heard many teachers and preachers through the years say that our lives are the only Bible that some people will ever read. Those words are still true. You were a great read this week. Yet, every week, even every day, we have opportunities to let ourselves be read by those who otherwise would not open a Bible. We even have occasions to let ourselves be read by those who do read the Bible. When we realize what God is asking us to do, to so live our lives that others will see Christ in them, it can be rather frightening. What an awesome task. At the same time, realizing that God has invited us to be partners in touching others with the love of Christ can also be rather exhilarating. Together, we are a part of the greatest story ever written; and the greatest story ever written is still being written. It gets written and read all over again when we make room in our lives for the ancient words of scripture to take on flesh and bones and come to life in our daily living.
You may not pay much attention to who is reading you, but someone is. May they read hope, justice and mercy when they read your life.