Mentality of a Messiah 5

Mentality of a Messiah 5

Please hurry…

When driving in Buenos Aires whoever is carrying more speed into an intersection generally has the right of way. If your vehicle is really big (or old, like mine) then you also can enjoy right of way status. I’ve seen power passing into the oncoming traffic lane countless times. Sometimes, if you don’t run the red light, you might get rear ended by someone on your bumper expecting this kind of behavior.

Once in a while though, you get behind a really slow driver. How does this make me react? I’m usually in a hurry, so I get restless. I am temped to honk or pass or at least fume impatiently.

But what if I was following my boss in the car ahead of me? Or what if it was my mother? Or a king? How would may attitude be then? I would be respectful and humble of course.

That’s how Jesus works. He’s always behind us, waiting on us. Respectfully. Humbly. He treats us like kings.

Follow the true King. Let him show you the most excellent way.


An hour (or so) at the post office

Here in Argentina there are wonderful things to see and do. Waiting in long lines is not one of these things. When I took my number at the post office, it read “72”. They were serving number 43.  So I sighed and glanced upwards to heaven. From my perch, I observed:

A man who could not stop staring at every young woman that came into the post office. He looked each of them up and down several times. He was fidgety. I know this man. He has been in charge of youth groups and works for an NGO that helps the poor.

A woman wearing a revealing dress. I suppose she wanted everyone to see how great her tan was. (It’s summer down here).

An older disabled man. He held up the line for many long minutes.

A handsome young man, full of life and full of himself. He strutted around as if we should have applauded him.

A young woman lent the disabled man her pen. When her turn was done, she just left the post office and left her pen as a gift to the man.

A middle aged man who complained loudly about the heat and the weak air conditioning.

A pregnant woman smiling at her husband and young son who were waiting outside. Through the glass door she smiled and waved at them lovingly.

The post office worker, who despite the complaints, treated every single person with respect and a smile.

I saw kindness, vanity, lust, struggle, frustration and generosity during my wait. I reflected on my reactions to the actions and appearances of others.

Peeking into the lives of these people, what did I feel?

Did I feel mercy?

Jesus does.

For all.

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I’m giving my books away…

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I have nothing to teach you

Living in Buenos Aires presents me with a variety of challenges. Hour long bank lines and cramped train rides where you unwillingly get intimate with your neighbor are but a few. This new challenge will force me to dig deeper. In Buenos Aires a villa is basically a slum. A place where people suffer.

Providence brought me to Villa Uzal about 15 minutes from my home to converse with a young man, C., who grew up in the streets of this neighborhood. He returns often as his extended family still lives there. C. tells me, “La villa te absorbe.” Meaning, the place sucks you in.

So he tells me his story. Of a past full of drugs, cars and crime. Of lifting himself out of it all practically on his own. Of children stealing and dying and luxury sedans wheeling into the villa to do commerce. Of his dead brother-in-law, killed in a shootout. Of another family member and friend killed. And another. And another until I’ve lost count. He tells me he worries about the 14 year old kid on the corner with his baseball cap skewed sideways. This kid’s brother was shot in the belly while the kid watched. And even though he’s incredibly bright, C. tells me, the kid will need a lot of attention and patience to not end up in prison or full of holes in his chest. I hear about the 17 year old girl with a mentality of a ten year old, pregnant by abuse and infected with HIV…  La villa te absorbe…

C. was trapped, but he escaped – without faith in Jesus Christ. By nature he worries about the kids in the street that he knows are stealing from the chance for a better future for his neighborhood. He does all this without faith. So by what right or by what reason do I have to teach or advise him of anything? The answer? I have no right and no reason at all. My innate strength and goodness are puny in the shadow of this young man tattooed with ink and pain.

We look down the main corridor of the villa watching kids scurry after a ball, and I hear him tell it as if describing a late summer storm. Behind the soft pitch of his words his clear green eyes deepen saying, “We’ve seen some things. Man, we’ve seen some terrible things. The seeing made us suffer and cry. This is all we’ve seen since he was a baby; he hurts and he needs. But just listen. Just listen for now.” And so here the Jesus in me found a way to act and to heal. By just listening for now. As a person, there’s little I can do for this young man known for his work ethic and for pulling his family out of the misery. But if I impose my limitations on the Lord, then I make God quite small.

I just have to step aside and let Jesus do His work.

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The picture in this blog is of the famous Villa 31 in Buenos Aires. Villa Uzal, where C. comes from, is another smaller slum on the outskirts of the city.