For some of us, life is too real for that.
When I came home from work tonight, something in me thought I should go for a walk, so I did. I went to a couple of my usual spots and got the feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be there, so I kept walking.
It hadn’t been long when I saw my dude Josh*, a darker black guy not too much less than my height, out on the corner with his wife. I stopped to talk to him and offered him the couple dollars I had in my pocket because I knew he could use it. As we talked, I sensed that something was off. As his wife walked off for a second, his eyes began to tear up and he finally confided in me: He’d been unable to feed his wife and kids this week, so his extended family had given him some drugs to sell.
Mess made me want to cry.
This isn’t just some lazy, good-for-nothing, take-the-easy-way-out type of guy. I’ve seen him hustling doing recycling, washing cars, mowing lawns, and almost anything you can think of at some point or another. He is polite, knowledgeable, sincere, and sometimes too honest. I could see how much it hurt him to admit what he was doing, and that hurt me.
I wanted to cry.
I looked him in the face, standing there on the corner and didn’t know what to say for a couple seconds. So I put my Arizona down, laid my hands on him and prayed. As I prayed two cops sped by, (you can always hear which cars are cops because their engines are always the loudest and they drive like speed limits don’t exist) and I was afraid for him. In a minute, I’d be gone, he’d be out all night.
I prayed for strength, for courage, for God to make a way out of the situation, and for Josh’s faith when I realized that tomorrow is Easter. For two days, everyone who thought that Christ was the Messiah was left in despair as he laid dead in a grave. Everyone who had walked away from their land, possessions, and family, looked like utter fools, and everything they had put their hope in appeared to have failed them miserably: There was no hope for them. It had been spectacularly crushed right before their eyes.
But none of them had a clue what was coming Sunday morning. Death, the only certainty in our lives was overtaken nearly effortlessly. Hope crashed through the deepest darkness they had ever known. The deepest darkness WE had ever known. We’ve always known death as the conqueror of life, but Christ upended the balance and now life will finally conquer death. That’s what Easter is all about. We all get another shot at life!
As hopeless as I felt as I finished praying, looked Josh in the face, told him that God sees and hears, and encouraged him to make the right decision, only to watch him head off in the direction of a group of kids outside the bar. I know that there is still hope. Perhaps he’ll even find it for himself tomorrow morning. I hope so. As real as this world is, something even realer (and yes, I know that “realer isn’t actually a word in the English dictionary, but it’s real for a good deal of us anyway) is poised for total takeover, and is doing so in little ways, day by day. Easter was just the beginning. Everyone should know.
*not his real name