What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
— 1 Corinthians 14:26
Have you ever had a weird day? I mean like weird, weird? The kind of day where you end up with a stranger’s blood in your poison ivy rash? OK, maybe that’s just me. But have you ever ended up on the other side of a day that has changed you?
I had a day like that today.
After having been plagued with several sleepless nights of poison-ivy-rash torture, I decided to finally head into a Give Me Care Right Now kind of place for a giant steroid shot before I clawed my skin off. Don’t feel too sorry for me. Never intentionally rub a suspicious plant on your skin just to see if it’s actually poison ivy. It is.
After pulling out of the clinic parking lot, with my steroid-injected hip still stinging and my skin still burning, I felt mighty sorry for myself and decided to drown my sorrows in a Diet Dr. Pepper at the closest Sonic. As I reached out to hand my debit card to the teenage girl behind the window, I saw her horrified recoil at my arm of leprosy. I pretended not to notice and fixed my gaze forward at the street in front of us.
As I intentionally stared forward, a small green car suddenly skidded across three lanes, flipped, and came to rest upside-down about 50 yards from me. I was momentarily dumbfounded. The girl forgot about my leprosy as she handed me my Diet Dr. Pepper, and we both stared forward, she hanging her head out of the drive-through window. My first thought: Man, I’m already late for work. My second thought: I’m going to be even later.
I pulled into a parking space and walked the few feet onto the pavement, where the driver was suspended upside down by his seatbelt. He quickly released it, fell, righted himself, and then busied himself with finding his cigarettes and lighter inside his destroyed car, dripping blood everywhere from his injured arm all the while. I forgot about my leprosy.
As I began speaking to him in an attempt to move him a safe distance away from the wreck — with a handful of other helpful people also trying to convince him that moving was a good plan — he turned and looked at me without even a hint of recognition that I was actually speaking words to him. His mind was completely somewhere else. He stared at me for several seconds with his eyes glazed over and his face void of expression. Convincing him to move away and sit on the curb required a hands-on, group effort where we all steered him to the curb. Words were useless.
Once seated, the guy immediately began to surmise and lament his situation. We were all still recovering from the fact that we had just walked a live person over to the curb, instead of dragging a dead body from a car, while he attempted to convince us that this was the worst day of his life. The boy was sure that, due to outstanding warrants for his arrest, he would soon be taken to jail when the police arrived. He lamented aloud over what he had done to his girlfriend’s only car. He had no driver’s license and no insurance, and he was sure this would cost him greatly. And he was right about all of those things. But, needless to say, we were a tough crowd. We couldn’t be persuaded that this was the worst day of his life, especially while his blood was still all over us. This boy was alive for a reason. Hallelujah.
In the midst of that tiny little group of random people — hairdressers, nurses, Sonic workers, and a broken young man — all waiting for the EMTs and police to arrive, sitting a few feet away from broken glass and placing our hands on a broken body with a broken life, a prayer circle erupted while his blood continued to slowly drip onto the sidewalk. We all prayed for this boy’s physical healing, the mercy of the courts in his situation and for the revelation of God’s purpose in his life. We prayed while the boy worried.
After the whirlwind of police and EMTs had finished with their questions, strapped him to the gurney and whisked him off to the hospital, the rest of the group finally looked at one another. There were various races, various sizes, various tattoos, various colorful hair choices, old and young, all smeared in some area or another with the boy’s blood.
We were strangers 20 minutes prior, and now we were joined to one another by God, prayer and the blood of a broken and scared young man.
That is the church.