Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Ravens of Revival

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

He was dressed all in black with long black hair and a beard shot through with gray. The brim of his black hat was pulled low over his piercing yes. He was a man off his meds. He was hungry, homeless and had anger issues that he warned you about first rattle out of the box. He wore his hat and coat indoors the way homeless people have as a way of protecting their possessions.

I had come to cut up onions for stuffing and to help with the turkeys and the best Volunteer Coordinator I have ever met was in the middle of giving me my gloves and my orders when the man in black came to check me out. Where had I come from? What was I doing? Would there be enough turkeys? Did I like Poe?

I kept my answers simple. I was married to the Chaplain. I was the onion chopper. There were abundant turkeys. I could quote The Raven from memory.

"I like John," he offered with almost a smile as he left me to glove up.

Over time I learned a bit more about the man who loved The Raven and dressed like one. I also learned another not unexpected fact- John liked him back. John had made an effort to take him aside and spend time finding out about who he was, what he liked, what he needed...and if he had any refills left on his meds.

John shared poetry with him and Jesus. He prayed for him and over him and with him. It was just a trickle at first, more a promise of moisture than the real thing but the desert was retreating. A new fresh thing was happening.

They talked about The Telltale Heart and the heart of love Christ has for us. There were prayers for housing and a job. Prayers for deliverance from anger and physical pain. His own heart was coming back to life as the desert surrendered its captive. The journey would be long but it had begun.

In one of the last services he shared before his housing prayer was answered, The Raven Man rose at the end of chapel and asked if he could sing a special chorus of a Johnny Cash song. (What is it with men in black?) John prayed it was not going to be Ring of Fire and agreed.

He sang it the first time a capella but the second pass through the band joined in behind him and then, as his voice declared his desire that the Circle Be Unbroken, he received the affirmation of Jesus and the applause of the totally surprised audience.

Once upon a time I had the privilege of watching my first chair clarinet husband play Debussy's Premiere Rhapsodie from memory standing in front of a full orchestra. The applause was considerable. When John came home and told me the story of the chapel service, told me about anger laid aside, Jesus glorified, about one man's baby steps toward wholeness and the audience's embrace; I knew John was happier for the applause lavished on The Raven Man than he had ever been for himself.

Jesus told a despised tax collector that he was coming to pay a visit. He called up to a little thief in a tree that he was coming to lunch. He asked a lost woman for a cup of water. Jesus' way was "I see you. Come see me." Christ didn't just put a pamphlet in their hand. He shared himself. He became to them just the God they needed.

It is so easy for someone homeless to lose their identity. Jesus never forgets who we are to Him. We must not forget who we were intended to be to each other. Family. Neither should we forget the God who is doing new things with fresh love.

John does not see The Raven Man every day now but he continues to cover him in prayer that the circle may remain unbroken and that he will be homeless, "Nevermore."


Special thanks and blessings to all our Urban Missionaries who daily take Jesus to the streets.

Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1 MSG

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the best kind of stories - the kind that are bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. Just like God's people when He is living on the inside. I love this. -K