October 8

October 8
By Jenny Dittmer
Read: Philippians 2:3
 
I met with a young friend of mine, “Jack,” for lunch the other day to celebrate his 26th birthday. To say that he’s had a tough life is an understatement. He was adopted from a foreign country by a U.S. couple at the age of five; he has vague memories of his mother but never knew his biological father. About two years later, his adoptive mother became ill with a severe mental health issue and his parents divorced. After relocating and within the year, his father remarried; unfortunately that marriage ended within eight months due to domestic violence and other issues. Fast forward a few years, and his father, a Christian pastor, eventually gained love and stability within his third marriage; in looking forward to his new life, his dad moved the family to a new location during the summer before Jack’s senior year in high school. These are just a few experiences of sadness and deep loss that he’s shared with me over the years.
 
I’ve walked many miles of suffering in my own shoes, but I often wonder how I might have navigated my own life if given Jack’s circumstances. By most standards, he hasn’t fared too well. Jack has a jail record, is not living in a permanent home, and struggles to maintain part-time work. He is not on speaking terms with his dad and is a self-proclaimed atheist. In the midst of his pain, our conversations often pan back to this question: How can a God that is supposedly so good allow horrible atrocities to happen to the people He is supposed to love?
 
The simple fact that he is questioning God, is what gives me hope for Jack’s eternal future. This young man is no different from me or you or any other person on this planet who makes some good choices and some bad choices. His sins, no matter how horrid in our eyes, are no worse than mine or yours. He is a man in pain who needs to hear that Jesus, God in human form, is willing to meet him where he is at. He is a man who needs to know that, as Christians, we won’t judge him by the color of his skin, the tattoos covering his body, his unconventional hair-cut, the bright colored tank tops he chooses to wear, or who he happens to love. Our purpose is to be a light for those who need to hear God’s message. Our purpose is to pray for those in need, and that they will accept Jesus. Our purpose is to allow the Holy Spirit to work all good in our lives to the glory of God our Father by humbling ourselves as Jesus did.

I feel honored in knowing that Jack seeks my input with regard to faith, God, and some of life’s tougher questions. I do my best, but also knowingly fail at times, in meeting him where he is at, in listening without judgement, and in shedding any sense of superiority and placing him above my flawed and stained self. Despite this, I have confidence that the Holy Spirit is gently whispering into Jack’s ear and directing him to walk toward the door of eternal life;  and, I have hope that one day we will be together, as brother and sister, worshipping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
 
Dear Father, 

Thank you for meeting us where we are at in our flawed, dirty, and pained states of being. Please help us to humble ourselves in your likeness so that You might be glorified through our words and actions. Please continue to be the guide within fragile relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances who need to know Your merciful and abundant love. In Jesus name,

Amen

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