I got an e-mail today to become someone's Friend on Facebook. I am so much of a loner - think Batman, not Psycho - that I distrust these. They involve signing in to "talk" to someone whom you have met only once and wants to be electronically connected to you.
I stink at small talk. My relationships with very lovely women has suffered greatly because of this. I mean, a man can only be SO interested in "cute" items that are - *gasp* on SALE!
Where was I? Ah, yes. My mystery friend.
Turns out it was Robin. If I'm Batman, it was Robin.
A young man I lived with, mentored, listened to and helped get through a tough time of his life for over a year.
You see, nearly a decade ago, I was a House Father to four young boys. It was my first real ministry experience and I was the very first "house dad" for this Boarding School home for The Neighborhood School in Memphis (a private school ministering to "At-Risk" children of the inner city). I recall saying I'd do it for 90 days to help them out -just to give them time to get someone who was really qualified.
I ended up doing it for 15 months.
It was the hardest thing I ever did.
It was also the greatest thing I ever did.
Two of the children were diagnosed with ADD, one of whom was failing first grade. By having him stay with me and the other three boys, he went from bottom of his class to the top in two weeks. Seems all he needed was a good schedule to stabilize his mind. That's just one success story.
The other success story was this young man I will continue to refer to as "Robin." He was being teased and struggling to be good in a yard full of mean kids. He often would fall down and simply cry. Though he was good sized, his heart was broken. I understood that. His grandmother was doing the best she could to raise him, but he needed more.
That's where I came in. I knew he just needed time and freedom to grow.
I ended up playing roles I never would have imagined (Art teacher, Chess teacher, Cub Scout leader...). I ended up asking God for every bit of wisdom and praying nightly for the children to be safe, to know Jesus and to see His love. I was nervous, but I also saw what an honor it was.
God does not give His most delicate children to just anyone.
Later I saw a sign at a church that said, "God does not call the Qualified. He qualifies the Called."
He sure does.
My sidekick is a young man. He's in college - playing FOOTBALL! The same kid who couldn't take teasing on the playground is now pounding the ground and hitting hard other big boys.
Real hard, I suspect.
I can't take all the credit for it. God put a lot of helpers in his path. I just remember how much I loved the boy. He had the right heart and loved squirrels and snacks and was always, always grateful.
He was one of my "Squadron", one of my "Gabriel's Angels". (Yeah, we thought it was cool, too.)
He even opened my eyes to a certain mystery in scripture by questions he asked at bedtime. I can't go into it now, but when I put the same question to a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton college, he reached behind him and pulled out a paper on the very subject published by a guy with a doctorate. Wow! "Out of the mouths of babes" indeed!
So my boy wonder, has gone on to college.
There an old Teen Titans Annual with a cool George Perez/Pablo Marcos drawing of Robin - he looks like a swashbuckler with poppin' biceps and emerald green gauntlets. He's confronting this fat mob boss and his "girlfriend" says, "THAT'S Robin? I thought he was a boy - but he's a MAN!"
Yeah, girl. Robin's a Man.
And now he wants to me to be his Friend.
What an honor.
Thank you, Jesus.