[Jesus] said to them,
"Go into all the world
and preach the good news to all creation."
Maybe I shouldn't admit this, but I often have a hard time going into the world. Truth be told, it's not like I've got my Bible in one hand and gospel tracts in another, hoping to convert the lost. I'm just going about my daily life when the world seems to be coming to me, rather than choosing for myself to head out.
I talk about how I'd like to open up the world of my children, so they're not completely oblivious to the kind of reality that face so many people even in our smallish city. Gavin and I have talked and prayed about doing missions with the kids and we've taken them down to Winnipeg Harvest, to encourage a philanthropic mindset.
Here's the problem: it is often very difficult for me.
Last spring, Cassidy and I took the city bus home from a field trip downtown for her preschool. [Let me spell it out a little more clearly so you can fully appreciate the irony. Cassidy's Montessori program took a trip to the Winnipeg Art Gallery and when I picked her up (after a lovely break at Starbucks) we took the bus home. ] On that very short bus ride, a young woman got on and sat directly across from us with what seemed to be 4 foster children. These kids were probably about 2, 5, 8 and 9 years old and the girl with them seemed to be in her early 20's. She talked alot and very loudly, so we got a pretty clear picture of what life was like for these little kids. It was the girl's mother that was the primary care giver, I guessed, and she didn't seem to be too happy to be toting the charges around. Two of the kids had very obvious 'baby bottle mouth' and the 5 year old was not potty-trained (as the girl loudly announced). The youngest in the stroller stared hard at Cassidy as she munched on organic crackers and drank from her colourful, BPA-free SIGG bottle. I felt a tightness in my chest, and even now as I relive the moment my eyes well up with tears.....
Last week Gavin was looking for some very rare and specific films on DVD that prompted a trip to MovieVillage on Osborne. Cassidy was with us again and had to make a potty-run, so we popped into the Starbucks that is in the same parking lot. Of course, since I was there, I treated myself to a latte and got a smoothie for the sweetie! We sat on a low ledge outside and waited for Gav to finish up. As we sipped, a man in an electric wheelchair came out of the coffee shop and wheeled over to us. I guess he had MS or some other illness that caused him to be unable to walk and slurred his speech. He stopped in front of Cassidy and greeted her, so we said hello and I tried to make some conversation about the weather. After several moments of awkward silence he wished us a good day and rolled on....
Today I had to take the van in for brake repairs and while we had 2 hours to kill, Cassidy and I walked over to Giant Tiger to wander about. Having had 2 big cups of coffee already, I had the pressing urge to visit the rest room, so I asked for it to be opened. I was told someone was in there, so just wait. I waited....and waited.... I was getting a little concerned for myself when the door finally opened. I looked straight into the eyes of a man in our area that is homeless. Oh, how I need more of Jesus in me because my first thought was to forgo using this restroom and run to Tim Hortens's. He held the door open for me and I thanked him. As we closed the door behind us, the overwhelming aroma homelessness caused my stomach to lurch. "Why does it smell so bad in here?" Cassidy questioned.....
Perhaps you wouldn't struggle with these scenarios. Perhaps you would have offered organic crackers to the children on the bus or been better at making conversation with the man at the coffee shop. Maybe you would have had a better answer for the bad smell. I hope I will get to that place. For now I'll settle for still going out, even when I'm tempted to stay home, or stay in places I know are "safe" - I'll be thankful that my heart is moved.
...and I'll pray for opportunity to grow in love and mercy, and to serve in ever-increasing ways.