Thursday, August 04, 2005

my God can beat up your god

This has been 'one of those weeks'.
Early in the week the AC in our house went out.
Over the weekend, someone busted the window out of one of our cars (tried to steal the radio, I guess).
Yesterday, the AC in the other car went out.
And then there's the busyness of playing catch-up at church from being gone so much this summer, preparing for changes in our ministry, explaining it all...

And it's only Thursday morning.

But yesterday I had lunch with some friends. We met at Burger Tex for a good 'ol greasy 1/2 pound mushroom and pepperjack burger. I walked in wearing a t-shirt that says 'My God can beat up your god". They guy behind the counter, Andrew, gave me the once-over.

I didn't know this guy, Andrew. He's tall, lanky, strawberry blond goatee and shaggy hair...actually, he looks alot like this guy, but with lots of prison tattoos. Down each forearm he has the words "Third" and "Coast", and across the knuckles on each hand is "hillbilly". A couple more tats peek out from under his t-shirt sleeves and the side of his neck.

He takes my order, then dryly says, "cool shirt, bro".

"Thanks." I get my greasy burger and DP and take off. But all the while I'm sitting, eating, and talking, I'm thinking about this guy and his story. So, I leave my table of friends and track down Andrew in the back of the burger joint. I tell him that I picked up my shirt downtown in a vintage shop and would pick up one for him next time I was there if he wanted.

He looked at me like a deer in headlights.

"Yeah, cool. 2XL if they've got it. ..." So we talked. Turns out Andrew was raised in Houston (5th ward) and just moved here. He tells me about giving his life to Christ at VBS when he was in 3rd grade, and about his involvement in gangs, drugs, prostitution....then he lifts his shirt to show me his favorite tattoo on his stomach: a picture of Christ with tears in his eyes and 'Jesus wept' written below it.

"Through all of it, I never lost my faith," he says. "Sounds strange, but I always knew I had to get back to God whatever it took. Some people don't understand that. But it was like He was in the back of my head through all of it saying, 'Andrew, you ain't gonna make it in life without Me. You know that.' And He was right. And when my mom and dad got killed.... I knew He was the only one I had left."

All of a sudden, the car problems don't matter anymore. The hustle and bustle of living, the frantic pace of ministry....are just pebbles in my shoe. Life is full of those moments. It's like Ferris Bueller said,"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't look around, you might miss it."

We talked while my burger got cold. I introduced him to my wife and kids. Darien gave him a high five. We exchanged smiles.

"Martha, Martha. [or "Tom, Tom"] You are worried about many things. But only one thing is necessary..."

(plus, I made a new friend.) :)


At 6:07 AM, Blogger Jimmie W. Kersh said...

I am proud to call you friend

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Scott M said...

Wow. Pretty cool. Reminds me how much I tend to tune out people around me. I need to do better at tuning in.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Julie T-G said...

Lunch was cool that day, and I've seen Andrew on multiple visits prior to Wednesday. He's what I call a character, but then I have one of those characters who lives under my own roof and you know deep inside is still the little boy that used to run around without a care in the world. The load of care that has replaced those carefree days is often difficult to watch them carry. I'll have to pay a little closer attention to Andrew next time I visit Burger Tex. To know he doesn't have a mom or dad to lean on is heartbreaking. I'm so glad to know you are my kid's pastor! I can learn a thing or two from a guy like you!

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