Pain and Beauty

September 23, 2003

(Gentle reader, I doubt that you are overly sensitive to swearing. I use the words without bleeping them out because they are honest and real.)

In our home group gathering last Wednesday, we had two new people. One of them was an older, disheveled man in a wheelchair. My children were fascinated at him because he had lost his feet to diabetes. If you saw him on the street, you might assume he was homeless. He is actually a neighbor of one of our people whom we had been wondering how to reach out to. Not content with just “reaching out,” she brought him to the group.

At the end of the meeting, we broke into groups of three to pray for each other. Apparently his request was, “Pray that God would kill me.”

I talked with him afterwards. His mind didn’t seem to be all there, saying, “I don’t know how I got here. I don’t even know where my home is.” I told him not to worry, and asked him about his tattoos. He showed me how the names of some of his children were tattooed on his arm. His wife left him years ago, taking the kids, and he hadn’t seen them since. “I don’t blame them, I’m not angry with them,” he said, “but it still hurts. I wonder what they look like.”

I said something about how life is hard, but that God knows what it’s like because he’s been here and lived with us — he knows what you’re going through.

His response: “If I could see God, I would kill that fucker, I mean I would crucify him all over again. If you saw an animal caught in a trap, hurting, wouldn’t you set it free?”

All I could do was smile sadly, nod my head, and put my hand on his shoulder. I appreciated his honesty. Here is a guy who has had a terrible life. He showed me where he got his first tattoo to cover the scars he got from mainlining heroin, which he started at age 14.

But you know what? We shared communion that night (using a bagel and fruit punch). I gave instructions and watched as this guy received the elements and passed them on, saying, “The body of Christ, broken for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you.”

It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

8 responses to Pain and Beauty

  1. wow jon, wow. I began grieving with this guy as you retold the story. I love your response to his pain–the touch of love, pain shared, affirmation. I can only imagine that Christ’s response would have been similar–or then again, maybe that WAS Christ’s response.

  2. Moved…
    Thank you for sharing the entirety.

  3. Agreeing with Jared….wow. Jon, that is…really, really moving. I heard Spencer from the The Ooze say once (probably quoting someone else) that God is attracted to our sin. That is exactly why Christ died. Christ broken for indeed!
    ++For that dear man, sweet Jesus, Kyrie Eleison++

  4. I love to hear stories like that! Great stuff Jon – I like the way you connected thru the tatoos – the symbols of his identity. A great clue for me…

  5. Man, THAT was church. Beautiful.

  6. so what’s happening now? any interaction? any updates from him?
    … just curious. – peace 🙂

  7. (FTI: Found your blog after Googling for “jesus meditating”) Appreciated the honesty in relating the man’s pain and struggle. Many prayers sent your way as you work out your calling in life.
    Blessings & Peace,