When placed around a table with a group of people, strangers and friends alike, the recipe for my favorite thing is set in place… story time. There is no arguing, every life has and tells a story – a story of actions and words, people and places, joys and trials.
I know some great story tellers, but I have to admit, I do have a favorite. Not only is he good at telling, but he’s good at writing, crafting, and working in them all. As I’ve read some of his work, I have found many stories with these wild twists and turns where dead men come alive, blind men see, deaf men hear, lame men walk. And there seems to be a pattern where “blind” comes before “see” and “deaf” before “hear” and so on. Could that imply some of our greatest stories sometimes actually lie inside of our greatest trials?
But here’s the deal. When you step out in love to comfort a friend in their mess, please, let’s not start there. Yes, the God of heaven loves us, and is wildly involved in the details. And no, he is not far off, nor is he in the distance just wishing he had a say in the matter. He is truly alive and well, ready and willing to come to us in our deepest pains. But for you, the friend, the hands on the ground, the feet in the trenches… let’s start by just showing up.
God’s love for us is displayed in ten thousand ways, and you, the friend, are one loud means by which God shows his love. We were made to walk with one another, to embody Presence. It seems like we so often are looking for the right thing to say at the right time, so focused on our contribution to the moment, we forget to really show up.
But when we remember. Oh when we remember to show up, we have the space to look at each other, eye to eye, and acknowledge the fact that situation just got us in the gut. And coming to a place of admitting we have nothing to offer, nothing to give, is where we gain everything. It’s where the incarnate God comes and dwells among us and gives everything we need.
This is the cry of all mankind and the heart of God, my friends. So much so, the very name of the God who took on flesh to come to our rescue is called Emmanuel, the God who came to be with us.
And if this is the cry of mankind and the heart of God, we’d be wise to align. So no matter how ugly it is, don’t let there be a time where you are nowhere to be found. When they’re hungry, show up. When they’re sick, show up. Whatever happens, just show up. And through the blur of tears, light will shine, the colors will be clear, there will be space to talk it all out. But to start, show up. Jesus will do likewise and all the rest.