Monday, April 16, 2012

The Man with the Blue Hat

An old drunk man walked with me up the mountain today.
Excited to see something new in his patch of the world.
White people. Lots of them.
He made jokes. He laughed. He shrugged his shoulders in a nervous tick.
I could smell the rum on his hot breath. He wore a blue hat on his head.

When we came to the little mountain church he froze.
All of us walked inside, except him.
The people were waiting, and so we set about our work right away.
As I gave the Gospel inside the dark church, he stood just outside, glowing in the harsh light of the Sun.

A cool breeze was flooding in from behind me. Just to my back and out the window, I could see the entire southern peninsula of Haiti. Almost every trail I've walked, almost every church and soul I've visited, could be seen between a few palm trees.

We talked about sin, about God, about how He knew even before He formed the world and Man that the very thing He was creating would one day require the gruesome murder of His only Son....yet He continued to breathe life into Adam. We spoke of that death on the cross, of that sacrifice, of the Slaughtered Lamb who took our place, and we talked of repentance and what following Jesus looks like. We read from Romans 12 about the power of love:

'Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. '

We began to give away the Bibles, the whole time the man watched me from just outside, framed perfectly by the frame of the door.
Then he looked at me, asking permission to enter.
I nodded my head.
He eyed the frame of the door as if trying to determine if it were dangerous.
Then he placed a foot inside the church and waited.
God did not strike him dead. He was not struck by lightning.
He breathed again.  

And that's when I saw his heart.  This old drunk man, once bold and belligerent,  drooped his shoulders.  His hand reached up and crinkled the old blue had off of the top of his head.  He looked to be a mixture of reverence and fear, perhaps thinking all of these people may stone him on sight. 

"I have just one Bible left.  I don't want to cause a ruckus, but do any of you know this man with the blue hat?"  

"Yes!" they all said together.  Some laughed.  Some shook their head as if to say, 'how could we not know him?'

The old man's eyes locked on that Bible, and he began to inch forward, taking little baby steps.  

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