This post was written by Zack Ayers, one of RISE's world-famous interns and an all-around nice guy.
I have a problem with the word, “collision.”
It’s not so much the word itself, but rather the perception of the word. Oxford English Dictionary (I know, another corny way of using a definition to prove a point ...but hear me out on this one) defines collision as “the action of colliding or forcibly striking or dashing together; violent encounter of a moving body with another.”
Let’s simplify: a collision can mess you up.
And what about the phrase, “mess you up?” Doesn’t that send off a negative connotation as well?
Well, according to 99% of the population (Okay, so I made that number up …), “messing something up” means that whatever got “messed up” probably ended up worse off than it started.
And here’s where my story comes in. A couple weeks ago, I was part of a massive collision that messed me up in a big way. And you may wonder if I came out of this collision okay ...
To tell you the truth – I wasn’t okay ... it was a dangerous collision.
In early September, I had the privilege of participating in a Meet and Feed – an opportunity for folks from RISE to show some love to the Harrisonburg community. There were about twenty of us who would spread out to different places in the Harrisonburg area late on a Friday night to serve free food to anyone who wanted some.
Wait a second ... did I just do that?
Yep, I just put serve and free in the same sentence – two words that we need a lot more of in our world today.
So, back to the story! Our team of twenty was divided into about six or so teams of three to four people – after some time in prayer, we headed off to our assigned locations.
This is when it gets good.
About forty-five minutes had passed since our team had started handing out hot dogs, popcorn, and cupcakes. Those on the receiving end of this act of love would say things like, “Where’s the catch ... there’s no way this is free” or “Is this a joke? I have a feeling someone spat in all this free food – people don’t just hand out free stuff.” And for some reason, I had a lot more people who ate cupcakes say, “This is so good – I want to marry you,” than those who didn’t munch on the cupcakes – kudos to you, Cocolicious!
And in the midst of all this hubbub, someone whom I had never met before approached me – but who was obviously intrigued by what was going on.
“So you all are really just handing out free stuff?”
“Wow – that’s pretty cool. You’re making a lot of these peoples’ nights. What organization are you with?”
You can probably guess how the rest of this small talk went – but the conversation didn’t just stop at small talk.
I started telling my friend about RISE and the impact it has had on my life. I shared how Amanda’s constant message of “you are not alone” and “you are a gift” had given me hope during a time when I had nearly lost all hope to be successful in college. This clearly sparked an interest in my friend and we started talking about the difficult times we have both been through. It was crazy how much common ground we had and how easy it was to talk to each other as if we were brothers.
Two hours had passed since my friend approached me with that first question, “So you all are really just handing out free stuff?” We talked about dreams. We talked about life. We talked about hard times. And we talked about hope.
My friend walked away from our conversation saying, “This may have just changed my life.”
And that’s when it hit me.
This isn’t my story.
This isn’t my friend’s story.
It’s a story of hope. It’s a story that could have only been scripted by Jesus – the One who defined hope through the emptiness of the tomb.
How much different is the story I just shared with you from the one of God’s love?
Well, like the free food we were handing out, God’s love is freely given.
Jesus didn’t come to Earth with the plans of just having small talk – he formed relationships.
And just like the folks receiving free food, sometimes we think that God’s love is too good to be true.
But it’s not. Nothing is too good to be true for God – because He is all that is good.
So yeah, I had a pretty nasty collision that Friday night – and it messed me up in a big, big way.
But it messed me up in a way that changed my life – just like my friend’s – it messed up my old way of thinking that God only shows up when He wants to.
Because that night.
It all made me realize that God is always there. His love is always open. It’s always free.
It’s not a game of chicken where we see how close we can get to colliding and then one of us backs out at the last possible second.
God’s love is so constant and so unfailing. We don’t have to question whether or not He’s with us – He made us ... don’t you think He wants to be with us?
So open yourself up to colliding. Colliding with a love full of hope that will overwhelm all of the pain and suffering that the world tries to burden us with. He’s a pretty strong God - He can handle our problems.
Collide into Jesus: I did at the Meet and Feed that Friday night – and friends, it was an incredible experience.
Collisions are dangerous – but not dangerous for what is good. They are dangerous for everything that detours us away from the good news – the good news of hope!
Collisions with Jesus sure have a way of messing up any feelings we may have of hopelessness.
You are never alone. Write down on a sticky note. Sharpie it on your hand. Say it out loud. But never forget it. Never ever forget:
You are not alone.