When the Man and I were babies and in the middle of our first church planting gig, we lived in the mountains of North Carolina. We set up house in the projects and got our first taste of poverty.
We learned about generational sin and incest and mental illness and witchcraft and drug abuse and good ol’ boy theology.
And trust me, nobody wants to learn anything about good ol’ boy theology. (It ain’t no good, in case you’re wondering.)
But one story from Spruce Pine stands out in my mind today and in light of today’s happenings, the Man and I have roared with laughter at the thought of it. The story is one our ministry leader used to tell and I’ll tell you now, because sometimes it’s good to laugh.
And sometimes, it’s good to remember these sorts of things because they remind us of the war we’re fighting.
Because we’re at war, whether we live like it or not.
And so I tell you the story, just like our ministry leader told it, and I hope it stays with you.
Well, when he finally became a believer, after years and years of praying for him, I thought our church needed to hear his story. So, I invited Jack to tell the church about how God had saved him. He was all cleaned up when he showed up at the theater. He had his bible and his pants were clean and he was excited to sit up there on the stage and tell his story. I set him on a stool and then let him get at it, you know, telling his guts and everything. He talked and talked and talked and the church was getting excited. Jack was confessing his sins and talking about his drug abuse and about the evil found down in the hollers of them mountains and then all of a sudden Jack had his bible up in the air, yelling about the devil and drug dealers and how we should just “Kill the Trash!”
It was crazy and I sat there looking at this brand new Jesus follower and looking at my excited church and all I could hear was him saying, “Kill the Trash!’. And I thought that maybe Jack and I should have rehearsed what he was going to say.
And after that, I never let someone share their story.
-Randy, Jesus follower,church planting guru, pastor, father of 3, trash loving man
I find myself fumbling around here tonight, unsure of what to say.
The things I think I’m supposed to say are a repeat of last week’s things, even down to the knock on the door and the baby who opened the door while her mama was fourteen minutes into her once a month nap.
And nobody wants a repeat,
Unless the repeat is to serve as a reminder to keep running.
And yesterday, I must have needed a reminder, because when my dear baby flung opened the door and yelled into my bedroom that some lady was here to see me, AGAIN, I groaned out loud. And then flung my legs over the side of the bed and dragged myself to the front room. I was in no hurry. I knew the kids were already making her right at home.
She met me and before I said a word, she rambled out the longest sentence known to man: “Hey, I need something but it won’t cost you any food or money or a ride to the store or anything like that I just need your internet to set up my brand new Xbox 1 that we bought for Phat’s birthday with our tax money and then when we set it up I won’t need internet anymore because the games are already in the Xbox and I just need your internet for a little while do you have wi-fi I promise I won’t be here long.”
I gave her the password and then laid on the couch. She never stopped talking and I never stopped praying, “Jesus. Help me.”
She stayed more than 2 hours. (and let me be clear- I love this girl, just not during my nap time.)
We ate popcorn for dinner at 7:30.
At 8, we dressed the kids in pajamas and snuggled up to watch The Hobbit. And then at 11, the Man and I curled up on the couch to talk shop. We talked with our hands and forgot to whisper and for the first time in a long time, we were chasing the same dream for our place. We didn’t crawl into bed until nearly 1.
And we slept like babies, forgetting this race we’re called to run is right through a war zone.
This morning, we woke to broken glass and urine and nail polish splashed all over our porch. Litter was strewn across the yard and down the sidewalk, all the way down to our neighbor’s house.
The law came and scratched out notes and took our stories and knocked on doors.
And this afternoon, I swept glass and scraped nail polish from the front porch and all the while, one phrase played over and over in my head:
Kill the trash!
I thought of Jack on that stool and the way those 3 words served as his battle cry to his place: Kill the trash!
And I thought about how quickly those same words could roll off my tongue.
It’s much easier to kill the trash, or at least try and drive it out, than it is to keep going back and being Jesus to a pair of boys who make me so mad I snatch a knot in their corn rows.
It’s much easier to take up arms and plant cameras from every limb in our old oak tree than it is to sit on the porch and engage them face to face.
It’s much easier to pack up and move out and give the ‘hood the finger than it is to humbly bend low and have the boys watch me clean up their urine from my steps.
But we’re called to die, y’all, in every sense of the word.
And we’re called to love the unlovely.
For we’re not at war with people and places and things that go bump in the night.
We’re at war against the most evil forces of wickedness in the heavens.
So we dig in our heels and plant flowers in the yard and we stock up on Kool-aid.
We open up the blinds and invite the neighborhood to come and sit on the swing.
And we stake a claim on this patch of earth,
For spring is coming,
And Aslan is on the move.