I try not to get too personal in this blog; it is supposed to be dedicated to my thoughts about a book rather than my thoughts alone.
My wife says “David, you have to get to an end with this book about helping the poor, our neighbors. It is too hard on you and your readers.”
She is right.
I have been blogging since December 2014 and I have not dealt with a book like this before. Oh I have had moments of lack before, moments when I felt like I was not doing what I should be doing but this book has been non-stop guilt trip. Pastor Mark Labberton has made me feel sadly lacking every time I have posted on his book.
I should feel that way.
When I began working with The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor I dedicated my comments to John Allen. John was a close friend and his death shook me. I had known him for about twenty years and I knew he was in bad health these past few years and at times I wondered about him.
I wondered why he did not take better care of himself.
He did not want to.
I wondered why he took time to care to help the poor.
Now I know why.
He knew the meaning of “love your neighbor as yourself.”
People says things like a person’s life inspires me to do better and in John’s case, I do feel like I should help less fortunate people in our society. But following his death with blogging on The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor has really impacted me.
My wife is my editor. I don’t put anything up on my blog that she has not read and she has witnessed my struggle. She has witnessed it in my words. She knows I lack.
I have to finish the book. I will write only one more post on it after this one. Pastor Labberton’s thoughts about “moving day” do bear comments so I will close with “moving day.”
John left behind a wonderful wife and I know her pretty well; not as well as John. I think John’s death is still very much a part of her life and it will be for some time. Grief is a slow, slow process and it takes its own time to work its way out. Sally, I know you will one day get beyond the sadness and bewilderment. God has plans for you; I know.
Months ago, I knew I wanted to take a prayer from the book and directly quote it on the blog. This post is the post for that prayer. It is so meaningful for me and maybe it will be for you.
“Lord open and soften my heat today. You have been so generous toward me. May I give out of all I have and even out of what I think I don’t have. Help me to see and respond to my neighbor as you do. Use and meet me as I walk down the street, stand in line, engage with friends who live on the street, in the classroom where I tutor, as I wait at the Social Security office for an elderly friend who is difficult to be with or as I write to my city council representative about the crack house I know about. Use my gifts and life as I am working, playing, relaxing. Take my time. Take my money. Take my power. Take my powerlessness. Take my weariness. Take my fears. Take my tongue. Take my questions. All that I have and all that I don’t have are in your hands.”
Thank you for this prayer Pastor Labberton.
Thank you for your life John Allen.
Thank you God.