The annoyingly cheerful ding of the doorbell sounded unnaturally loud through the perfectly still house, and sent a frown to my face. I was a young military wife, new in town, husband gone on deployment, and feeling less than my best expecting our first baby. Visitors were hardly a thing I expected on a random midweek afternoon. I opened the door with the express air of one who wishes people would call before arriving on my steps, and was greeted by a round smiling face, brilliant blue eyes, and torrent of talking which was in no way deterred by my stiff politeness. Somewhere in the flow of words I ascertained this unexpected caller to be a women, probably forty years my senior, whom I had met only recently at my new church.
Whether I invited her in, or she invited herself, I am not quite certain. One way or the other, I found myself a helpless host to a most entertaining guest. Did I know that the volunteer fire department was having a bake sale thursday? (I did not.) Would you believe that the county was not going to do a fire works show this year? (Shocking.) The boss man had let her out of work early today which is why she had thought to stop by. (How nice.) Would I like to hear the song she had just been listening to in the car? (Do I have a choice?) To my astonishment, this delightful stranger produced a CD out of her pocket and helped herself to my nearby player. I settled back to listen to an old gospel song as she sang along obviously intent on enjoying the music whether I thought anything of it or not. Which was just the thing about this women. She really did not care what my opinion or reaction was to anything she did, either that day or all the days to come. She had decided, for reasons well beyond me, that she liked me, and I was going to be her friend. That was the end of the matter. And so we were friends. She took it upon herself to call almost daily to see how I was getting on since I was by myself. Never mind that she did most of the talking. She dragged me to her family’s events, stopped by whenever the impulse struck her, “carried me to town” (that means we went for a drive), and never failed to screech the world to a halt in order to share a new song with me. Her cup was literally an over flowing one, and she splashed it all over me. She died shortly before we moved from there.
In my mind, she was a gift. And every so often, like tonight, I pull out the memory of her and remember. I remember that joy is contagious, that friendship requires no invitation, that music is air in the soul, and that the brilliant color of life gleams only from my gratitude of today. One day, when I’m all grown up, I would like to be like her. I think I forget in all the “do this” and “don’t do thats” of christian living to just sit and “crackle”. You know, like a big cozy fire in great brick fireplace on a crisp cold day that snaps and crackles and invites. It doesn’t do a thing but feed on fat dry logs and burn. It is irresistible. It draws. It catches the eye. It is soothing to sit beside. It centers the atmosphere. And it can be seen a good way away. It is the christian who abides in Christ, who learns to be still, who feeds on the goodness of God who will catch the attention of the lost world. I cannot change by the demands of another, nor can I lecture my children or anyone else into being better, doing more, or becoming a friend of Jesus. But I can be tempted to it by the sight of what I lack, and it may be that I can draw someone else by the daily diligence of sitting and burning brightly. Perhaps one invitation holds more power than a thousand commands.
I see that I am not yet this person, but I would like to be her. And so, my challenge to myself is to find the fingerprints of God on absolutely every day, and in finding them, to be so delighted by the wonder of them that I cannot be bothered by the thousands of things that ruthlessly steal the moments of our lives. It is the fragile tenders of gratitude which so easily catch a spark of joy. My challenge is to blow on those little sparks with long conversations with a God who sees all things, hears what I cannot say, and loves me beyond my comprehension. This real life living, every day chatting, good friend enjoyment is what brings the soul alive into a bright and steady flame of life. My challenge is to feed that little flame with thick logs of truth found in the words of God that fuel me with courage to face what is today by the grander promises of what will be tomorrow.
Truth be told, my uninvited, persistent friend is one in a long line whom the Lord has tucked into the cracks and crevices of my life. Whenever I am tempted to cynicism, whenever I am tempted to bar the gates and build the walls higher against all humanity, the Lord simply will not let me. You simply cannot unsee kindness once you have seen it. You cannot pretend the world is an ugly place when you are handed breathtaking beauty. You cannot cry excuses when the rail of all that is disappointing is running parallel to the rail of the extravagant goodness of God. If I have a scar of a hurt, than I will also have the scar of the stitch that closed the wound. Which will get the glory? Which will be my story? The hurt? Or the healing? My choice. But make no mistake about it, there is always, always the choice, God will see to that…undoubtedly in some uninvited. maybe just a touch nosey, somewhat shocking, ridiculously generous way.
Proverbs 15:16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.