Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?
~ Job 17:15
On Sunday about a year ago, my “typical” Sunday morning got very unusual, very fast. I went to my Sunday School class and was early, so I sat down at my usual table — this class has tables of eight and we usually sit in the same place, so that we can get to know the others in more depth. Anyway, I was there first and sat down.
Suddenly a great crowd appeared at the door; then they started filing into the room. They were all women, different races, shapes, ages and sizes, but they all had a slightly scruffy air about them. Many of them looked like they had seen some hard use. And seven of them promptly sat down at my table, filling it up. So we had a somewhat reserved old white man, wearing a suit and bow tie, with seven women who had clearly seen some hard times, and all but one of them under 30. I had no idea what to expect for the next 75 minutes.
Well, of course, it was a gift from God. Like most people, I can always use inspiration, and I got it in spades. These girls were all in a Christian-based residential program for homeless drug-addicts, and they had pretty much hit bottom before being accepted into it. Their stories, when they shared them, were horrifying. Their achievements and goals, not what I am used to hearing; it was not like talking to a friend's daughter who is deciding whether to go to law school or serve two years in the Peace Corps! One of them, in particular, was trying to rebuild her reputation to the point where someone would rent her an apartment; I got the idea that her criminal record was serious enough that nobody would rent to her. Some had sold their bodies, some had physical scars.
But here's the thing. They had all become Christians, and they were all on their way up in every sense of the word. Physically, morally, spiritually, and in terms of lifestyle. Two of them had achieved permanent jobs: floor workers in a cardboard box factory, a job that nobody I know would even consider, the kind of job one associates with illegal immigrants. They could not have been more proud — and I would have been no more impressed — if they had won a Nobel Prize. I was flooded with the bright light of inspiration.
Which brings me to the point: What matters is not where we are, spiritually; it is where we are headed. We must always keep in mind celebrities who commit suicide on their yacht or in their Bel-Air mansion. Even if you have fallen to the very bottom of life's pit, if you find faith, you can claw your way up one inch at a time. Christ will be with you every step in your life, if you ask Him.
We conversed for a long time, and I hope I added something to their lives, perhaps even some fuel to their passion; but without doubt, the person who received the biggest gift was me.
Thank you, Lord, for all of my brothers and sisters who show your grace so brightly that it cannot be ignored. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer