I’ve been running. Kind of.
Mostly I’ve been walking, with short bursts of running if a song comes on that is really, really good. Even then, I only run until I feel sure that I’m on the verge of peeing my pants and then I go back to walking…. It’s a girl thing. (Ok. So it’s an old lady who’s had 3 kids thing.) Anywaaay. I’m sick of being flubby and I’m tired of being depressed, and this walking/running/trying not to pee thing has been helping a great deal with both of those issues. So that’s good.
The only problem is that there are fat piles of dog crap everywhere. We’re talking about insane amounts of poo in every form imaginable. Fresh poo. Old poo. Crusty white poo. Poo that looks like soft serve ice cream. Poo made of rice and beans. Grass poo. Poo that makes you ask yourself “Did that dog survive?!” Poo with little flowers growing out of it.
I think you get the idea - The side of the road is speckled with turds.
So the key to running, er, walking hastily, in Costa Rica, is to keep your eyes firmly planted on the three feet or so ahead of you, only looking up occasionally to see that you’re headed in the right direction. Otherwise you’ll end up slipping in dookie and breaking your neck or rolling your ankle on one of those hard crusty pooballs. And take it from me, that is embarrassing.
So this morning I was out there, and I was thinking about how it is just like me to get caught up in gazing at what’s waaaaay up there, on the road ahead, that I forget that I’m navigating through landmines right here and now. I fail to address the most pressing needs because my heart and mind are set too intently on the future. And that’s a pretty good way to end up in a pile of shit… So to speak.
Sometimes I see the Church doing this, too. I’ve seen folks who are so hell bent on figuring out where a poor soul is going to spend eternity that they either don’t see or don’t care about what that person needs today. And I see a lot of sad, hurting, broken people walking away from this Church that seems to care so much about whether or not they’re “saved” but doesn’t bother to find out that they’re lonely. Or sick. Or starving to death. Or that they’re overwhelmed by raising children, or financial burden, or porn addiction, or whatever. The people around us are navigating landmines that could take them down at any moment. And some in the Church want to hand them a Bible tract and say “It will all be okay, if only you make it into Heaven someday.”
Talk about a pile of crap.
So I was reading the Bible (I do that sometimes) and I was struck by something interesting. In Mark 8, when Jesus was preaching to a big fat crowd and they got hungry? He fed them.
His friends were all “Hey, Jesus, everybody’s getting hungry…. Should we cut ‘em loose?” And Jesus was like, “ Um. Noooo. How about we feed them so they don’t die. “ (Paraphrase mine). Notice what he didn’t say? Jesus didn’t say, “Yes, let them go home hungry for if they die of starvation it’s no big deal because they’ve met Me, so it’s all good. Eternity is all that matters!” No - He fed them. It mattered to Jesus that those people didn’t go hungry that day. It mattered.
Today matters. And how we care for those around us matters.
The people in my life who have most influenced me are those who fed me when I was hungry. They are the women who came alongside me when raising babies felt a little bit like being slowly eaten by cuddly, diapered piranha. They are the couples that have stood by El Chupacabra and me during the absolute darkest moments of our marriage. They were anonymous donors that, when we were younger and poorer, gave us a gift that kept us afloat for another month. The people who changed my life are the ones who took the time to walk with me awhile, showing me how to navigate the landmines and the steamy piles of crap and even ~because we all step in it every now and again~ sat down with me to dig the shit out of my shoes with a toothpick. So to speak.
They didn’t introduce me to Jesus and then abandon me, thinking they’d sealed my eternal fate and nothing else mattered. They helped me live in the everyday, and in doing so they developed in me a bright future.So as I was zig-zagging between dog-logs this morning, I felt like God was reminding me of the very thing my dearest friends have taught me over the years; Live alongside people, and be keenly aware of their needs. Feed them if they're hungry and look out for the crap in their way, so that if possible you can help them through it, or even better, around it. Because if you really care about any one person’s future, eternal or otherwise, you’ll be heavily invested in their today. Dog piles and all.