Afraid of the Light

It’s a very good practice to have a healthy assessment of ourselves. Not in some vague, “I think I’m kind of a jerk…” sort of way, but in a real, “Wow, I certainly missed it on that one” sort of way.

One thing that I severely missed it in my life on was in getting to know a man named Bob. As I’m writing, Bob died yesterday, on March 11th, 2012. He was, truthfully, one of the most amazing men that I’ve ever met.

He was a quadriplegic, and needed help with nearly all of his daily activities. He could move his hand a bit to run his wheelchair. And somehow, he also ran a business, for a while at least, selling third world crafts to get the money back to indigenous peoples.

But the most remarkable thing about Bob was the glow that was nearly always on his face. It seemed to me that he was always gazing into God’s great eyes, and he wanted you to look at them too.

This amazed me, because by all counts, Bob had every single right to complain. Many a lesser man would be taken out by his circumstances. It can’t be an easy thing to have to have people bathe and feed you like a baby, day after day. But from what I could tell, Bob used it all for the glory of God.

Bob was blessed to live in a large Christian community in Chicago where he had loving, round the clock care. The bulk of this care was handled by the single guys in the community, though many married men helped as well.

When I lived in this particular commune, I was terrified and squeamish of handling these responsibilities. I would do some meals with him, but not the grotty stuff. No way. I was a big chicken.

But I watched the other guys work with him. It changed them. Bob never wasted a minute with you. He was all about God. From what I could tell, he was always praying, always searching, and always digging into your heart to be sure that you were free.

So what does this have to do with “the light?”

Have you ever been around someone that just makes you feel like they’re looking right into the depths of your heart? Have you ever gotten close to someone for a moment, and knew that they could know things about you, that you simply didn’t want them to know?

Bob made me feel this way. It seemed like he and God were talking all the time. Bob loved light. He had nothing to hide. But I had much to hide.

The fact is, I was a phony. I didn’t want people to pry in. I had my reality and my justifications, and I didn’t want anyone messing with that. I was afraid of people messing with that.

But Bob, in all of his love, with his smile that would light up the room, would sweetly mess with your reality. He would bring light into all of the dark spots. He had no interest in condemning, only in giving life and light. He wanted you to be well.

My wife and I left that community nearly 11 years ago. We visited once about 2 years after we left, and Bob still knew our names. We visited a few months ago as well, and he still knew our names. He carried people around in that amazing heart of his, and when you carry people around that way, when you hope and pray for them, God is very faithful to let you see remarkable things.

I hope that I can even be a bit like Bob when I grow up. It’s no small feat to live life in a wheelchair, barely able to move more than your head, and still believe, hope, and trust that Christ is king, and he will reign forever.

But next time that I meet a Bob, I’m determined not to run. I want to learn to sit in the light, and let it rip apart all of my fake nonsense and let the image of God remain upon my face.

Bob, thanks for being you. . .


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