Mission: Grayson

Update posted by Timothy Jackson On Oct 21, 2015

I have this old pair of tennis shoes that I?ve worn since my sophomore year of high school (at least five years ago, maybe six). They aren?t in terrible shape, but they?re to the point where the rubber bottom of the shoe is really loose and you can pick up a quarter without bending over. It?s funny until you have to wear them every day and they keep getting stuck on things...

As with all of life?s problems, I chose to fix it with a roll of duct tape. For some reason I had some leftover white tape from a set we were doing at church, so I ripped off a good piece and ? voila! ? good as new. I was wearing these shoes when he walked up to me.

The man had long white hair under his crooked baseball cap, and he stuck his hand out from under a beat up biker jacket. His jeans were torn in several places. He looked like he was in his mid-fifties, but he might have been younger. This fella didn?t know me from anybody else in the crowd of homeless folks we were about to serve. In his hand he held out a brochure that told me where I could get food if I was hungry. He also let me know that he was handing out clothes from the back of his truck if I needed a new pair of shoes.

My shoes were so ratty that even a homeless man thought he could give me better ones.

I?ve laughed about that story a bunch and told it several times, but the more I think about it, the more it convicts me. In my mind I was this well-taken-care-of kid from a nice, white, middle-class family that could have had new shoes if I dialed ten numbers. The fact that I didn?t have a good pair was because of my apathy, not because of my poverty. In my mind it was absurd for this homeless man to give me anything because I already thought I had everything. We were on different levels. He was poor and I was rich. I came there to give to him, and it was ridiculous for him to think he should take care of me.

But this is the second homeless man to give me something. Christ spent His life on healing and teaching and saving others. A conversation from the life of Jesus as told by Luke cues us in that Jesus had no place to lay His head. He was poor, humble and homeless. And He gave me His life. He gave me life. He became nothing and gave me everything.

So much of my life is ratty and worn out (just ask anyone that knows me). And so often I try to duct tape it back together and pretend like I have everything under control. I act like I don?t need any help getting things fixed or repairing my ugly heart. But then this Homeless Man comes and offers me a new life, a new start, a new peace. And I can grin and turn Him down like I usually do, or I can grab that white-haired, dirty man in the biker jacket and hug the daylights out of Him. I know this homeless man doesn?t need me; but oh, how I need Him.

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Update posted by Timothy Jackson On Aug 01, 2015

I love the St. Louis Cardinals, stupid jokes, and students.

The whole set of these spectacular things came together for me this year at Summer in the Son (I'm not nearly as sorry as I should be for all of these "s" alliterations). This was my first year leading a group to SITS, and it was also my first year ever actually completing the full week of the conference... To say that I was stressed would be simply satirical (I'm sorry).

We ended up with 11 students in our rag tag group of people that barely knew each other. After scrambling paperwork for an hour before we left, losing our transportation, cancelling a youth event, coming up short on money, and trying to keep track of kids that were determined to break me in, I was beginning to wonder if a career in photography would be a better life decision. By midnight on Sunday I was ready to buy the camera.

But SITS lasts til Friday.

Throughout the week the kids started to warm up to me, and I started to remember my old ridiculous self. One of our students made the comment that her eggs tasted funny, and I quipped that it was because they came from a cow instead of chicken. Alice demanded proof. One day and two trips to the store later, I produced what we affectionately referred to as "the cow egg." The poor women at church couldn't imagine why I was tormenting a poor watermelon with spray paint and acrylic...

Alice gave her life to Jesus during SITS.

On Thursday afternoon a few of the boys invited me into their room because they had a "surprise" for me. When you enter a room full of teenage boys with the lights off and complete silence, it's hard to tell what kind of bodily harm you're in for. Much to my surprise I found that they had all sorts of gifts for me on their beds. In the spirit of boys, they pooled their money together and bought me a new watch, a picture of my favorite character from Up, a stack of my favorite Peanut M&M's, a whole dollar, and a brand new KCU hat.

Perspective: I've worn my St. Louis Cardinals hat nearly every day since May. It's no small feat to make me give it up. The fellas wanted to do something nice for me and save my head from the diseased rag I usually worn on it. I didn't hesitate to change caps.

I don't give a flip about a career in photography. And I wouldn't give a flip about it even if the crazy kids I spent the week with kept to themselves and didn't do anything spectacular for me. But I'm realizing that the beauty of ministry isn't in the loud noises and flashing lights that make people's hearts race. The beauty of ministry is in the quiet consistency that reaches into their hearts and says, "I love you. You're so worth my time."

I'm still learning about this crazy life of love He's called me to. But whenever I start to think that it's time to throw in the towel, it's my hope that I always remember cow eggs and sweaty ball caps.

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

1 Corinthians 3:7 ESV

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You're amazing.

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Good luck Tim. I will be mailing your mom a box for you. God bless your work.

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