No, he wasn’t every mother’s dream for her daughter. He wasn’t a clean cut, church going, college degree, Christian raised type of guy. One who owned his own house, drove a new car, shopped at Sac’s, and had a portfolio to impress.
Instead he’s covered in tattoos, served time, a recovering alcoholic, loves Jesus and perfect for her. They met while he was doing street ministry to the homeless in downtown Palm Springs. The dating began as she started serving the homeless with him.
I admit at first I was leery. Would he be good to her? Would he stay clean? Would he love her?
As the months passed more and more of his testimony was revealed. He not only openly confessed where he’s been or what he’s done but where he is headed. He knows the pit he has been pulled out of. He knows what God has done in his life. And every time I see him I love him more.
Today, he rocked my comfortable, middle class, self-righteous, prideful world and I am so ashamed…..
His brother died this morning.
My daughter called to tell me and asked if I could come down to the Hospice Facility. Putting on my make-up, getting gas in my Lincoln, driving through Starbucks, I was finally on my way. Feeling a little apprehensive of my past year with death, I deliberated not going in the room. The mortuary had not yet arrived and I was uncomfortable.
Yet God had a lesson for me inside that room.
I walked in to find Michael surrounded with four friends. Waiting for the mortuary to pick up his brother they talked, reminisced and encouraged. Standing off I watched as they hugged Michael, slapped him on the back, and offered words of condolences. The strong bond between them was evident.
Big burly guys not afraid to show emotion give their love or share their faith. It was like walking right into the days of Jesus and watching the disciples interact together. Yet the scene became even more surreal when a new friend walked in. He hugged Michael, showed his respect to his brother Marc, and whispered something in Michael’s ear. He shook his head yes and the friend left the room.
Seconds later that friend re-entered the room with a young man. This young man was only a few days clean from a meth addiction. Rescued from the streets, ministered to by the church, he came in to meet Michael.
I truly saw the heart of Jesus when Michael began sharing his testimony with this young man. It didn’t matter that his brother laid their dead, for this man needed help. Even while his heart was bleeding, he reached out to someone else. I heard him say, “Jails, institutions and death is what addiction will get you.” And as he pointed to his brother he added, “He now has all three.” Knowing his testimony yet seeing him in action took on a whole new dimension.
My comfortable little world shifted on its axis. Unfolding before me was the true heart of God.
Reaching out to people right where they were. No suits and ties, no fancy cars, credit cards or material wealth, just loving people. Admitting to another that you have failed, yet showing God is working miracles in lives today and you are walking proof. Willing to help, reach out, come along side and do life with.
I am ashamed of my pious attitude and embarrassed by my lack of compassion. Witnessing this small group of people giving and sharing the love of God broke up my toughened heart. As I drove home, the tears streamed down my cheeks not for Marc but for me. How easily I had become hardened to the work of God in my life.
Although today marks the day Marc died, it will forever signify the day that God showed me that Michael Stearns superseded the dreams for my daughter. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. As do his friends……