Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Annual Phone Call

My birthday was yesterday. Every year for the past 10 or so, I always get a phone call. (Yes, I get one from my mom, too, but this one is a little different.) It's a call that reaffirms my hope in the Gospel. It's from a guy who used to be in the student group I helped lead. To know why the call is so special, I'll have to give a bit of background on Dick. Dick has struggled along his life's path for quite a few years. When I met him at the University 11 years ago, I had no idea that he had a mental illness. I'm not sure anyone did. But to make a long story short, Dick found himself in trouble, the kind that gets you thrown in jail. Mental illness is severely misunderstood. There is a different consideration for people who's heart or kidneys don't function properly than for someone who's brain doesn't do what it was designed to do. We tell the person with a heart condition to go to the doctor, but we for years have told the person with mental illness to "snap out of it," or "stop being lazy," or "quit being weird." But every year when Dick calls on my birthday, I am encouraged and amazed. I'm amazed that this man who has a mental illness also has a mind for remembering details, like baseball stats, history dates, and birthdays. I'm encouraged by the fact that God does not give up on us. Yesterday, there was hope in his voice, even choking up at one point, grateful for the love God has poured out on him despite his brokenness. It reminds me that His love knows no end. It tells me that His love is what its really all about, not about how good or moral we try to become. Goodness and Morality can become an idol, becoming the focus of our lives rather than living in awe of the Love poured out for us every single day. Thanks, Dick, for the phone call. And thanks for your example to me of what its really all about.

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