22 Phone Numbers

by DanWolgemuth on September 18, 2009

22 phone numbers…

Gareth works in the juvenile detention centers in Denver. Sometimes as a chaplain, sometimes as a mentor, sometimes as a friend… always as a committed follower of Jesus with a heart to reach the least and the lost.

Yesterday, Gareth relayed a story. It’s an unfinished story. In fact, it’s messy and burdensome, and laced with relational risk. The story is authentic.

A young man, I’ll call him Paul, that Gareth connected with four years ago in a detention center was the focus of the story. This young man has been in and out of various centers across metro Denver. Gareth has ridden the peaks and valleys that accompany a genuine relationship with a fractured soul. He’s invested in Paul with fewer guarantees than the Dow Jones. And yes, he’s been disappointed. But Gareth doesn’t quit. In fact, he has a log of 22 phone numbers that Paul has used over the past four years. Like a Rolodex for a single individual, Gareth maintains a database of contact information and because he combines this with an incredible tenacity, he models love… unconditional love… forgiving love… hopeful love… pursuing love.

Gareth is young and talented. Far from naïve, he understands full well that the statistics are stacked against him, but he pursues, and challenges, and believes nonetheless. His disappointments, and there have been many, don’t make him brittle and cold. Instead they produce the fuel that God uses to ignite a powerful and relentless love that races into the brokenness with conviction and calling.

22 phone numbers…

Enough confusion and chaos to make even the most compassionate quit. But not Gareth. Because of the ultimate pursuer. Our model. The inspiration. God, through Jesus… pursued. To the death.

Messy, complicated, frustrating stories are no match for the divine deliverer. Not 22 phone numbers… never.

And so, young, Godly warriors advance, when hired guns would retreat. They call one more number on the list… just because Paul is wondering… does Gareth really care… because for Paul, that answers the question: does God really care?

And yes… God, the pursuer, really cares. For Paul, for Gareth, for you and me.

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