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Heart Matters

Eddie and Felicia stumbled through the doors of our inner city church -- red-faced, feverish, and coughing. They were both very sick.

Not knowing what we could do for them, Lucy and I ventured into the food bank and filled a cardboard box with any canned good that had vitamin C in it. We knew there wasn't much more we could do without their mother's consent.

We packed frozen juice but realized they probably didn't have a pitcher. We packed cans of soup, then we remembered how one of the boys who lives with Eddie and Felicia had to get stitches because he was trying to open a can with a knife. So we went to the neighborhood store and got vitamins, cough drops, a can opener, and a juice pitcher.

We walked the two blocks from the church to Eddie and Felicia's run-down house and sat on their cluttered porch. I couldn't help but think about the fact that Eddie and Felicia probably don't even have beds to sleep in, let alone a mother who cares for them. After we showed Felicia how to make juice in the pitcher, we said our goodbyes and walked away...with an ache that seemed it would never go away.

All is not well.

At times it seems that Eddie and Felicia are destined to be empty shells of what was supposed to be a promise. The streets are known for their thievery, because around here one rarely finds a second chance that hasn't been pillaged, let alone a dream or a wish.

The dangling desperation settles on the cement until hope shakes us up like an unexpected, sorely needed gust of wind. And no doubt, with God in the wings, hope is never far away.

It takes more than creativity to look at poverty and come up with some kind of solution. No religious program or plan will ever be enough to shake up apathy and despair. God has given us faith in the midst of impossibilities, joy to wear the edges off everyday piercing realities, and grace to redeem our foolishness.

In the face of what seems unattainable, God gives us courage. And not just courage, but courage enough.

In some form or another, we all have to shut the door and walk away from places like Eddie and Felicia's. Our lack of options leaves us feeling helpless as we can only give them a Band-Aid for an infection that rages like cancer. But with an ironic twist, courage denies the seemingly, optionless one more option. You can't shake your head in despair.

This courage helps us cling to a promise of a Father who cares about Eddie and Felicia -- not just their bodies, but their souls. This sacred daring leaves no time to feel sorry for injustice. Instead it simply calls us to action until justice is met. Courage from God empowers us to bring about unthinkable change with unlikely means and measures. With courage you choose to wrap your arms around a child instead of resigning yourself to a selfish session of worry. With courage you believe in a God who breathes miracles, holds out peace, and offers an inconceivable way through this mess and right into his arms.

This life is full of such paradoxes; we must cling to the promises. Our souls gather for a collective lingering as we wait for justice, peace, and compassion. We stand with a courage so thick that it sinks our feet into a rock and brings our hearts to the very soul of God.

Courage lessens our ache but lengthens our longing. It seals up the space between life here and the love there. Heaven. Courage molds our standing into stepping until the journey leads us home. And courage from God is always courage enough.

A.B. Larson ministers to children in inner city Denver.

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