Sunday, March 09, 2003

I was relishing the near-70 degree respite from winter yesterday. My haven of rest was tirelessly cleaning and piddling with my car in an effort to rid it of the corrosive elements of a winter's worth of road salt treatments. And I had to take off a rear wheel and reprove the dandy job the Sears technicians did on their last rotation and balance.....they couldn't even put the little valve stem through the little hole in the little wheel cover. COME ON GUYS! PAY ATTENTION! And even before I could do that, I broke the retaining cap holding the trunk panel down in the access area to the jack and spare tire and lug wrench. *PFFFBPHBPHT!* It was going to be good to get the church cleaned tonight and finally get some dinner.

Then my wife emerged from the house.

"We're going to take Burt some dinner tonight. Will you be done in an hour?"

I was tense now. Burt has our number. Literally.

"He said he was feeling sad and was going to eat potato chips for dinner."

Last Thursday, during a good accountability meeting with two other guys in my house church, the phone rang. We all looked at each other when we heard my wife say Burt's name. We dropped what we were doing and prayed for Burt, which wasn't something we had intended on doing that night. Forty-five minutes later, the phone found it's way to Jason, Burt's bestest buddy. And when Burt calls, it ain't just for a minute either. Another thirty minutes later, the phone convo ended and Jason wondered aloud-

"You think we could go over and pray with Burt? He's started bawling on me." Over to the one room apartment we go, banging on the door several times, smelling the cigarette smoke seeping through the door cracks. I wonder if he's passed out. Or worse.

We remain until 1:30 in the a.m., and depart with a circle prayer with Burt weeping, seemingly and hopefully connecting the twinge of loneliness with the presence of newfound friends.

Now my wife is whupping up chicken and vegetables for Burt and I am adjusting to the itinerary changes of God.

Driving over to Burt's, I am conscientious of the sensory overload about to ensue. The dozens of empty Milwaukee Light beer cans......the 3-4 sodas and pizza boxes jammed into the refrigerator..........the smoky haze constricting my air passages.............the TV that probably hasn't been off in 4 days..............the outpouring of grief from Burt's hurting heart. I can tell this is a high maintenance situation. God enable us!

I just hope he did not forget his dinner on the counter because we sat for an hour listening to him circle his wagons around the same issue of hurt. We tell him he has to eat and that we must go. I pray for him. Then he surprises us.

"I got a prayer for you" Burt offers.

Burt thanks God for us and prayed in Jesus' name that we wouldn't worry about him.

I pray in Jesus' name that God uses us to bring Burt up from the pit.