Holy Asides
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April 6, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Rest Stop for the World

One of the most interesting aspects of becoming Easter people, those who experience the new reality of freedom in Christ, is the ways in which we are able to express God’s grace and love to the world. Just as there is no exact way to worship or pray, there is no specific way that we are called to serve. We can bring food, provide transportation, and offer encouragement to those in need. We can visit the sick and homebound. We can write letters, send emails, and make phone calls. In all of these instances there is a constant: we are present. Our willingness to be present in the lives of people is perhaps the greatest reflection of Christ’s love living within us. 

I believe that one of the most suitable metaphors and examples can be found in social races, rides, and runs. Anyone who has participated in a 5K knows what it is like to experience a team of volunteers and spectators cheering them on, providing directions for the course, and handing them water when they are in need. On the Century rides (100 miles) that I often go on, there are several rest stops along the way, with groups of people providing encouragement, food and drink, and some minor repair services. I think that being a living “rest stop” is an apt description of who we are called to be to the world around us, serving those who run and race through life. Their energies are depleted from being overworked in their jobs, overcommitted in their responsibilities, financial pressures, relationship struggles, and all of the other trappings of 21st-century living. How can we come alongside them offering rest, refreshment, encouragement and care? How can we sacrifice our own wants and desires to be present in the lives of those in need? How do we proclaim the love and grace of God to those who are nearing the point of spiritual and emotional exhaustion?

Several weeks ago I participated in a 300K brevet in Athens. Brevets are unsupported rides that must be accomplished within a given time limit. There are several checkpoints that one must pass through to prove that they completed the course. I was in a group with four other riders when the driver of a pickup truck pulled alongside of us and said there would be a rest stop in three miles. Three miles down the road, at the end of the driveway to his farm, true to his word, there was his truck filled with water, granola bars, cookies, and peanut butter sandwiches. Apparently he was familiar with the ride and route (one of the other riders knew him), and he had been driving up and down the road for the past hour seeking out cyclists in need of rest and refreshment. This was at mile 133. We had 60 more miles to ride, and I cannot begin to express how thankful I was for that peanut butter sandwich, water, and brief respite. I had already been thinking about our call to be “living rest stops” before this, but this action just reinforced the belief that this is exactly how we are to live in our world. How much more dramatically would the perception of the Church and Christians be if this were how we lived our lives...metaphorically or literally driving up and down the road seeking out those in need of rest, energy, encouragement, and most especially, the love, grace and healing of Jesus Christ?

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