When I made the transition from suburb to city, I moved into the middle of a mess.
Not a day goes by that I don't encounter a homeless person on the streets. It's a good day if I only see one. Seeing them has elicited a range of emotions: sympathy and frustration on my more compassionate days, annoyance and fear on my more cynical ones.
One man in particular can almost always be found loitering near my office. He's been a constant in the three years that I've been here. Some mornings, he's content with a cigarette, but most mornings, he's in your face the second you pass him:
"Help the homeless?"
I walk daily not only to and from the office, but around the neighborhood at lunchtime with my colleagues for exercise. Generally we smile and say "sorry" and move along. Occasionally I'll have a granola bar to offer him. One coworker even admitted that while she loves the job, she hates these messy encounters that come with it. I couldn't disagree.
One walk went a little differently than others. A colleague opted to join us, and when seeing the man, approached him, began a conversation, and said "sorry I've got nothing me today, I'll get you next time." The rest of us stood, waiting uncomfortably for this transaction to end. A sense of guilt nagged at me. Sure, I'd shared food on occasion, but I'd never bothered to say hi, learn his name, or hear his story. My colleague had entered the mess while I had picked up one piece of litter and moved on.
I was sent a copy of Move Toward the Mess by John Hambrick, and while I dreaded reading it as I knew even more guilt would ensue, I was engaged from the first paragraph. Hambrick argues that Christians are bored because we've "got the locker room meeting mixed up with the game." If we think our faith is just weekly church services, of course our spiritual lives will be dull. However, if we take a leap of faith into the messes around us and get to work, our boredom is certain to evaporate.
The stories illustrating Hambrick's argument are engaging and diverse, from a couple showing love to prostitutes in Atlanta to a reformed IRA bomber. The book reads faster than expected, and unlike many books of this genre, Move Toward the Mess offers clear guidance of ways you can move toward and get involved in the mess (or, just as likely, accept the mess that finds you).
I don't think Hambrick exaggerates at all when he calls his book "The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life."
I am giving a copy of Move Toward the Mess away courtesy of BlogAbout. Enter below!