Friday, March 5, 2010

Nowhere to Run and Nowhere to Hide

My wife and I belong to one of those members-only 24 hour gyms. The only reason for this is because we can walk there from our house. We figured it was worth spending a little more money for a gym we would actually go to. The front of gym is all glass and from the front windows you can actually see the roof of our house.

This morning I was on the treadmill, right in front of the windows. Headphones on, listening to Rick McKinley, I was doing my best to escape - to get away from the stresses of going to drop off our taxes later this afternoon, from the stresses of things at work, from all those pressures of life.

It didn't work. About 2/3 of the way through my run, as Rick was hitting his stride in what Christian justice looks like, two guys appeared at the corner of the building. They were walking slowly by the gym, looking through the front windows, their breath fogging the glass as they went.

When I saw them, my mind froze. I instantly recognized them as two of our guests from Outreach, we'll call them S & K. They are there constantly, especially in the winter, because it is warm and it gets them off the street. They are regularly intoxicated, and frequently make reference to getting more so with their next stop of the morning. They are salt of the earth guys, hit hard by life and still staggering. I froze because I was afraid they would see me.

You know how little kids think that if they cover their eyes you can't see them? I did the grown-up version of that. The top of the horizon suddenly became very interesting. Nothing could draw my gaze down to their eye level. Nothing except them pulling on the door handle... which, of course, was locked. This is a private gym to keep certain people out, after all. By the time they walked by again, I was done with my run and stretching - safely in the very back of the gym.

Did you ever see one of your teachers outside of school? It was weird. All of a sudden they weren't just a teacher - they were a real person with a whole life before 8 and after 3. You always knew that was the case, but you never had to see it. I knew these guys walked the streets in my neighborhood, but there were places I didn't expect to see it - and I didn't know how to respond.

I couldn't let them in the gym without forfeiting my membership. I didn't have any money to buy them a bagel. I wasn't going to take them back to my house - "Good morning, honey! We have company..." I was completely unprepared and confused. Two parts of my life came crashing together and I didn't know what to do. So, I did nothing.

When Jesus was on earth he fought to have his time of solace and peace. I can say this was that time. But, Jesus also dedicated his entire life to the service of others. He didn't have times when he was on duty and off duty. His mission was a full-time, 24-7 gig. We're called to follow him full-time too; not during business hours, not when its convenient, not when it fits into MY schedule. This is the life I signed up for and I'm still learning what that means.

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