Common Ground

I know it’s strange. I know it’s unreasonable and crazy and foolish. I know. But I’ve often been troubled by my perfect childhood . . . there it is. As I’ve grown up and listened to the stories and testimonies of those for whom life has been hard, there’ve been many fleeting moments where I felt cheated of a background that may have lent itself to a more fruitful ministry, especially in a place like Weaverville. “If I’d had it rough like that guy, I’d have had a better chance to share the gospel with him,” goes the thought. “He’d listen to me because he’d recognize I understand his pain. Then he’d wonder why I was different.” I’ve often asked God why I’ve had such a sheltered life. How does a sheltered life find any common ground to offer the meaningful hope of the gospel to broken lives, to haunted lives?

One of these broken lives came into my office today. I can immediately see he’s one of those men I can’t hope to relate to. He’s a Vietnam vet. There are a lot of helicopters in Trinity County, and as he sits in my office armchair where I seat my guests to put them at ease, he looks anything but. He tells me that whenever a helicopter flies overhead, he flinches. He has to fight the urge to hide.

His neck and back have been shattered. I can’t keep track of how many surgeries he tells me he’s had. He won’t take the pain medication because it makes him mean, and he’s tired of being mean. “I can’t see their faces,” he says quietly, “but I killed a lot of people in Vietnam. It’s a hard thing to feel worthy of love.”

He’s been through a divorce . . . he caught his wife cheating on him. Trust no longer comes easy, he tells me. I sit in the much-less comfortable seat opposite the man and pray furiously. If I pretend to understand, he’ll know me for the sham I am. I feel like he can see right through me, and I haven’t even said a word. I’m still thinking of something to say when this unlikely messenger from God settles my long silent question. “I know I’m a lot older than you,” he observes with a wry smile, “and I know I’ve seen a lot more in this world. I’ve been through a lot that you haven’t. But I’m here because I know you’ve seen what life is supposed to look like, and I don’t know where to start. I’m hoping you can help me get started on the right track.”

The common ground we shared was grace! The grace of God saved us both. The grace of God granted me a healthy history and heritage that seems to draw broken people to me. And the grace of God brought us together in that office meeting so I could keep pointing a broken life to Him for healing. We’re scheduled to begin working through the “Starting Point” class together next week. Thank you, God, for my sheltered life.

Please continue to pray for me, my family and your Outpost brothers and sisters as we lean heavily on God for His guidance every day.

Surrounded By Grace,

Josh, Outpost – Weaverville CA


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