Thoughts for the New Year
I visited my friend, Joe Miller, Jr., in the hospital in 2002 after a bicycle/car accident. Tubes, beeping machines, hissing sounds and liquids in hanging bottles surrounded him in his ICU room. He was unresponsive. “He may not make it,” I thought. He didn’t.
I resolved right there in that hospital room to never take another day of life for granted. I had made that promise before, but I never kept it. This time, I have not taken a day of life for granted since May 30, 2002! I thank God every morning for life. Your life can be taken away in an instant. We are one heartbeat away from eternity. Every day is a gift!
And that’s my New Year’s rant for the year. Life is precious, fragile, uncertain. It’s a gift. Live each day as if it’s your last. Martin Luther said, “Live as if Jesus died yesterday, rose today and is coming back tomorrow.” Paul said, “Redeem the time… the days are evil…” Eph. 5:16
In December, I was talking with some friends who help to feed the homeless. A day or two later I had coffee with Phil Klinefelter, chaplain of the Wayne County Jail. In both cases we remembered what Larry Burkett had said about Welfare Recipients: “If each church would take one welfare recipient under her wings and help him, teach him, mentor him and show him how to live a productive and independent life, we could do away with our government welfare system.” We wondered if the same would work for the homeless, the ex-inmate, or anyone struggling with life.
Chaplain Klinefelter has tried to get something going with local churches to help inmates. If a church would mentor just one inmate for a year… it never got off the ground.
So, I have a New Year’s challenge for us: What if every church would look around to see who would benefit from “mentoring?” Not just a handout or financial help, although that is certainly part of it, but some life-changing, long term actual examples of how to act, how to handle finances, how to show up for work on time, how to be responsible, how to treat people…
In other words, how to do what most of us learned growing up in a Christian home.
What if my family would help one homeless person; an ex-inmate; a person struggling to just live and pay bills? Maybe not actually have him live in your home, although that would be ideal (and risky), but to “be there” and be a friend and a mentor.
When the church falters the government steps in. And government can never do what the body of Christ should be doing. Ronald Reagan said, “Welfare’s Purpose Should Be To Eliminate, As Far As Possible, The Need For Its Own Existence.” It’s only gotten bigger.
I’m casting a seed in the field. May it germinate in our minds and hearts. Can we DO something? Can we at least spread the idea? Bring it up in conversations. Mention it in your prayers. I challenge us in 2017 to see what can be done to alleviate the attitudes and systems that keep people from becoming what God created them to be.
Is it really possible to eliminate homelessness? Let’s at least try! May 2017 be the year that a movement starts that rescues people from prison; from homelessness; from hopelessness; from aimlessness… and calls us off the bench and into the game! Could I be the person who starts something? Could YOU?
“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” – Jesus (Jn.4:35)
“…for we can certainly do it.” -Caleb, to Moses and all of Israel (Num. 13:30)