The For Sale sign went up on Friday, and when I saw the Open House sign on Sunday, I told Marti I was going to go over there and check it out. The house is next door, and for the last 47 years, it was the home of our good neighbor, Anne Wood, a retired school teacher who died a few months ago. Anne was a dear lady, loved in the community for her work for the homeless, and loved by us for her sharp wit and dry humor. This time of year she would be busy getting ready the big Thanksgiving dinner in the park for the homeless. She was always a big part of our Thanksgiving, as long as it was after everyone was fed in the park. She had to be there for that. Anne never married, and as far as we know there were no surviving relatives except for her Goddaughter who inherited the house, which made us think she was going to be moving in, but apparently she has other plans.
We were very familiar with the house, having taken care of things when she was away on her annual trip to the Russian River, and over the last few months, before she was moved to a nursing home, we were over there a lot, looking out after her as it became harder and harder for her to get around safely. A couple of times we had to call paramedics to come and help me get her up off the floor. Often, in the last few weeks, I would clear a spot on her cluttered kitchen table for my laptop and work there just to guard against another fall, and Marti would help her in and out of bed. She was feisty and self-sufficient and did not leave that place without a fight, probably because she knew she would never come back. She didn’t.
I was curious to see the place because in 47 years she had done absolutely nothing to it. It was just a tiny, one-bedroom cottage, built originally to be a little vacation bungalow. I figured that the seller would have done some extensive remodeling in order to dress it up for sale, and was surprised when I got inside to find nothing had been changed — not even the furniture. It was all Anne’s old beat-up furniture right down to the kitchen table. The only thing that was different is that it was clean and all picked up. All the clutter was gone.
This gave me an eerie feeling I wasn’t expecting. With all her furniture there and the house looking like it always did, it was as if I could feel her in the walls — like her soul was still in the place. You don’t live in one place for 47 years and not leave anything behind. The only thing that wasn’t right is that it was clean and uncluttered. Pristine. No mail piled on the kitchen table, no sheet over the couch to keep the dog hairs off, no dog hairs on the floor, no dishes in the sink, no bathrobe hanging on the wall, no cane leaning up against it. It was Anne without the mess.
I decided I didn’t like Anne without the mess. I missed her mess. It didn’t even smell right in there. Remodel the place, or bring Anne back, but don’t try to push this spruced-up version of her over on me. It’s not going to work.
This is exactly what is wrong so often with Christians. No one wants the spruced-up version of anybody, yet that is what you get more often than not. Unfortunately for lots of spruced-up people, God doesn’t want it either. God loves us with the mess. He loves the smell of the old place with us in it. He doesn’t want a spruced-up version of us, He just wants to get inside. He’ll clean up what needs to be cleaned up, but He’ll take the rest as is. That’s our body here on earth, and that’s as good as it gets. He not only loves that, He takes up residence inside that body. It’s His body, and cumulatively, it’s the body of Christ — all of us, the way we are, filled with Him. That’s 520 Green Street; the way it always was — the way it’s supposed to be.
We made it!
It is with great Joy that we can announce to you we have met our special fund-raising goal of $15,000.
With your participation, we will be moving forward into the New Year with the ministry expanding to an unprecedented extent.
This is because of you — your gifts, time, prayer, and encouragement to this ministry.
You are making possible an incredible expansion of the influence of the kingdom of God in our time. Music that Matters radio is not made possible by the Catch ministry, but by you. The Boots on the Ground will be marching forward because of you. Those people pulled back from the cliff of despair by the Catch counseling ministry aren’t pulled back by the counselor, but by the counselor – And you. Our daily message of inspiration, encouragement, and grace turned outward is because of you.
Every new ministry that emerges in the next six months, every book published, every album released, every website launched, every soul saved will be because of YOU participating with God in His great enterprise.
The message of Grace Turned Outward to those who have been discouraged, disillusioned, and disenfranchised by the traditional church can find a home with the Catch because of YOU. Thank you!
So, we thank you, and invite you to stick with us in the coming months because it’s going to be an amazing adventure!
On behalf of the Board of Directors, John & Marti