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A Cup of Grace

A Cup of Grace

I have some pretty incredible friends. In fact, I think I underestimate them a lot of the time because I don’t expect much of myself so, naturally, I find no reason to expect too much of them. But then there are those times that I’m floored by what occurs when we’re together and I marvel at the ability God has given us to be His hands and feet when He needs people to be His hands and feet the most.

A few mornings ago I met some friends at a coffee shop in downtown Wichita. I really like the little utopia it is for me so I find myself going in there every day. Sometimes I feel really pathetic because I spend hours there, but it isn’t usually until later in the day. This happened to be a very early morning visit for me so I was still quite sleepy and found myself rubbing dreams out of my eyes when I sat down.

We exchanged morning pleasantries and smiled as best as one can smile in the morning. Next thing I knew, we were talking about the most ridiculous things. My friends and I tend to do that but because it was so early and my brain still wasn’t functioning and I had no idea what we were really talking about. I just remember what happened next and I’m still trying to process it.

They started talking about this homeless man that comes into the coffee shop. Apparently he comes in there once in awhile, orders something, and then stays for a very long time. But after awhile, hotel management decides that he is a nuisance or something ridiculous like that and has him kicked out. I guess the baristas are told that when he comes in, if they don’t ask him to leave, their jobs are on the line. Fortunately, they’re not that heartless and will let him stay as long as they can, then they escort him outside and bog him down with love.

As they were talking about this guy I wanted to walk up to hotel management and punch them in the face. Being tired and thinking slowly, it gradually dawned on me that this wasn’t a very Christian thing to do, so I started planning a protest in my head.

The reason they were talking about this guy was because he had walked into the shop. And before I really knew what was going on, another chair was pulled up to our table, this man was invited over, drowned with coffee and flooded with questions.

His name was Butch. He had an awesome beard. He spoke very slowly, but with great concentration. Butch had traveled a lot up and down the middle of the country working. His favorite state was Utah because he made the most money there. My friends continued to bother him with questions until finally they stopped and normal conversation around the whole table presented itself again.

And Butch just sat there beaming. He laughed. He smiled. He reverberated with a joy that I’ve yet to see even on my own face that early in the morning.

I couldn’t help but think of how amazing my friends are, how amazing those employees in the coffee shop are, how marvelous the presence of Grace is and the intrinsic good dwelling in us all. I can honestly say that I didn’t do anything that morning. I didn’t invite Butch over to the table, I didn’t talk to him outside of introducing myself, I didn’t invite him to Church on the Street, I didn’t pray for him–I didn’t do much of anything. I just sat and stared at him, something that the Church is really good at doing with the poor.

Staring tends to be safe. It keeps us at a distance and keeps us from investing ourselves into issues and problems greater than what we are. If something challenges us, then we like to run from it—at least I do. I’m beginning to learn that this is no longer an option. I have to stare myself in the face and decide what I’m going to do that challenges me to live outside of myself.

My friends did a tremendous job of being the Church to Butch that morning. They enabled him to live 30 minutes of one day as a normal human being, infusing him with a freedom to just be. I did a tremendous job of being the Church, too, of remaining distant and watching people be Jesus with skin on while I dreamed of the courage to be the same way.

Maybe I was tired and maybe my brain wasn’t functioning, but my heart definitely knew what was occurring. Once again I’m astounded by grace—by its unfathomable splendor, and by its attendance in a man with a really sweet beard.

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