Posted by: Darrell Johnson | June 30, 2009

sin is sin: the quickest forty dollars i could have made

One of the best ways to invest in the people at Jeff St. is to take time to get to know a few folks better, you know someone that you want to be intentional with and look for every day and try to have more than a “Hi, how are you” conversation (if that’s even a conversation). So we’ve been encouraged to think of someone that is a guest in our day shelter as well as someone who is a resident at Jeff St who we will try to get to know on more regualr basis.

OK go!

People in mind: check!
Time to speak with them: check!
Being prepared for what was to come: …….(uh, where’s my check?)

So the person from the day shelter that I chose to be more intentional with was Geoff. And things seemed to be falling into place pretty well. We’d already gotten to know each through brief conversations in the storage closet and Geoff was not afraid to speak his mind, something that I can very much appreciate. In a sense, a type respect was being forged through our interactions.

DAY ONE of “Intentional Conversing”

I saw Geoff, sitting at one of the tables in the day shelter with a piece of paper in his hand; it was a flier for a local job fair that was about to take place. All kidding aside, Geoff looked up at me after thoroughly examining the contents of the flier and said, “you know what? I’m gonna do this.” This was a big thing, a chance to start over and move on. He continued to tell me about his life and how he was tired of being “stuck” and we shared some stories of past mistakes. Turns out Geoff is a felon and when you’ve earned that title, jobs are difficult to come by. Then Geoff asked for my opinion, he asked me what I thought of him. I looked up at Geoff and said, “Geoff, when I look at you, I don’t see a felon. I see a guy who is trying to move on from that and turn over a new leaf.” He didn’t have much to say after that, as matter of fact he seemed surprised that anyone would say something like that. After a brief pause, he thanked me for talking with him and assured me that if he was to be interviewed anytime soon by a potential employer that he would up front with the interviewer and assure them that he is “turning over a new leaf.” I told Geoff that I would be keeping him in my prayers and that I hoped the job fair would go well.

DAY TWO of “Intentional Conversing”

Geoff was in a rush, I had asked him about the job fair and he told that he decided not to go. When I had asked him about his future employment plans, he replied saying, “I’m just gonna go through a temp agency for now.” Something was very different. I can’t imagine nor ascertain what Geoff’s going through in his heart and mind, but something was up. We exchanged goodbyes and that was that for day two.

DAY  THREE :

I was working the storage closet and everything was pretty routine, people coming and going trying to get their clothes changed or washed and then a bolt of lightning came through the room (or at least that what it seemed like in my periphery). It was Geoff. He thought it would be cool to run in the closet and see if I would have noticed (which I did), then he tried to remove one of our guest’s bags and put it somewhere else just to see if I would have noticed (which I did). Oh yea, there was one more thing that I noticed right off the bat, Geoff had some very red eyes, bloodshot eyes and they were squinty…something was running through his bloodstream and it wasn’t something good. I didn’t ask him if he had been using or anything like that, but he was quick to whisper to me that he had made $300 last night and that all he had left was $40. And them BAM!!! He threw the $40 in my face and said, “I want you to have this money Darrell, you are my friend. You like money don’t you?” I was flabbergasted, beyond words, and very saddened. I gave him back the money and proceeded to let him know that I didn’t need his money, but I don’t know if it was out of guilt or whatever was in his system at them time but he was insistent that I take the money, the quickest forty dollars I could have made.

When he realized that I wasn’t amused with his behavior, Geoff quickly changed his happy-go-lucky demeanor. It was as if he knew that he had been into some things that were a far cry from going to the job fair. I felt awful and for a brief moment I felt like our trust was betrayed. Shame on me for that. Why shame on me??? Well for a few moments after having $4o thrown in my face, I became judgmental of Geoff just like a pious, holier than thou-type person. And all those judgments than ran through my head, prevented me to take time to see my own short comings. After all, sin is sin and satan has a way to pit our sins against one another, which can sometimes result in a broken community. My job at Jeff St. is to first build relationships, SCRATCH THAT…my privelege at Jeff St. is to first: build relationships, while giving all glory to the Lord.

So the next time I see Geoff, I can’t go about thinkin’ “there’s Geoff, who was good for only one good conversation and he ended throwing that all away when he threw $40 in my face.” NO! that’s not what should be done and that’s not what will happen. I look forward to seeing Geoff again, so that I can just say “hey” and ask him how things are, in order to start anew. Isn’t that what Jesus would do if I were in Geoff’s shoes? Oh wait…I am. Why? Well once again, sin is sin.

So keep Geoff in your prayers and pray that we all (the HOPE team) don’t become discouraged to the point of avoidance, when interacting with those who the Lord has placed before us.  Take care y’all, bye.

OH LORD, guide us all.
-Amen

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