“I’m With You”
I called her at 3am.
“Hello?” she said sleepily, “Is everything ok?”
“Not exactly…could you come get me? I’m outside of towers, in the parking lot.”
It wasn’t ten minutes, before Betsy arrived in her pajamas and glasses. She picked me up and took me back to her house, the whole way not asking me a single question about me rousing her from bed. Not, “why are you on the street at 3am?”; not, “what happened?”, just, “Are you ok?” I was very shaken up and I think she could tell I wasn’t ready to talk.
She showed me to my room, gave me towels and a shirt to sleep in, and then said I was welcome to stay as long as I needed in the morning. She didn’t have anywhere to be until late afternoon. Perfect, I thought, as I crawled in bed my mind still racing from what happened.
The next morning, I woke up to find Betsy preparing a casserole of sorts. I met my friend because she worked for a campus ministry at Vanderbilt and we had become close over the last year or two. When I first met her, I tried to keep my distance because I really liked my social life and wasn’t ready to give it up. Just yet, anyways.
But over time, she was the one who I went to when I needed to talk. She was the friend with whom I could sit across from at coffee and remove my mask of self-sufficiency. And my friend Betsy was the one who I knew would come pick me up at 3am.
She was with me.
I think many Christians have this portion of evangelism and ministry wrong. We shout. We try to beat the truth into people and hope God changes them. We are judgmental. We roll our eyes at someone’s behavior behind the scenes and then pretend to listen to their hardships. We stand on street corners.
We think salvation hangs on our ability to hide our sins, share a booklet, and muster up the perfect words.
We hate homosexuals, perverts, and anyone different from us.
But what if evangelism and ministry was, as Bob Goff says, “sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing”? In his book, Love Does, the first chapter left me speechless. In high school, Goff’s Young Life leader Randy drove with him hundreds of miles in the name of dropping out of high school and trying to find a job. After hundreds of miles, running out of money, and not finding work, the two drove home.
Over the trip, Randy simply said to this frustrated high school student, “I’m with you.”
Not, “I told you so”. Not, “See. This was a stupid idea.” What a beautiful picture of love.
Remember in the Bible when Zacchaeus (a dirty, lying thief) was up in the tree watching Jesus. Did Jesus stood on the ground and point his finger and tell him five reasons why stealing was wrong? Nope.
He invited him to dinner.
What if we simply loved? What if we picked up friends on the side of the road at 3am without asking questions? What if those who were hurting, those who were hopeless knew not that we wanted them to stop having sex, or drink less, or pray more, or go on a retreat–but that we were with them? Not that we have all the answers, that our lives fit into neat little gardens with non inconsistencies, but
that we feel and know what it’s like to be hurting or confused and especially directionless.
That’s what my friend Betsy exemplified for me in college.
I want you to know that while I do speak truth because truth is important, I want you to know above all I’m with you. I’m with you in the valleys, in the sleepless nights, in the moments where you can’t breath because he broke your heart.
I’m with you. Because someone was first with me.
What about you? Has someone in your life loved you in the “I’m with you” way rather than trying to change you? Do you need to invite someone over for dinner?
If you liked this post, you may also like:
- But First, Coffee | On Growing a Marriage
- On loneliness and love
- God Doesn’t Want You to Fake It
- Six Common Misconceptions about God’s Will