Last week I was in Seattle for meetings with key leadership. They were rich meetings full of the Holy Spirit, collaboration, unity, and grace. It was energizing to hear from our bishops on vision, present to our leadership group on communication strategy, and connect with many people to see how we can partner to lead our organization into leadership of what an evangelical denomination looks like in the 21st century.
After our summit had ended, I took one day for professional development to meet with a trusted friend and mentor. As a new executive leader, I know enough to know I need help. Taking my cue from Michael Hyatt, I reached out to find the best leaders I could and offered to pay for a day of their time. This was one of those days. I had my agenda of questions and issues for my coach ready. We spent most of the day downtown in a nice hotel. We then left for dinner to connect with one of his corporate partners for an evening of networking – a privilege for me. We dined at one of the finest restaurants in Seattle and had a very nice evening of food, drink, and conversation. The day went by fast but was very beneficial.
Just One Cup
With only three hours of free time in a six-day trip, the only thing I really wanted to do was sit down and enjoy a cup of Clover-brewed Starbucks coffee in the original location on Pike. It’s no secret I love both the Starbucks coffee and the brand. I enjoyed reading “Onward” [Amazon Link] this winter and selfishly looked forward to a quiet moment to myself with a coffee, newspaper, and some peace and quiet.
Enter Marlon, a.k.a 6’7″
Marlon was born in Portland and moved to Seattle when he was young. He has many brothers and sisters, but was raised by his grandmother. He finished the 10th grade and has spent the next forty years on the street. He was married for a little while, but divorced soon after the wedding. He has a cousin who is a Christian and who tries to invite Marlon to church, but he somehow can’t connect to faith. He asked me to buy him some socks. His hands were like sandpaper. He was definitely worn.
As I sat with Marlon in a diner just one block from where I was hoping to be by myself, I was struck by the juxtaposition of what 24 hours of my life looked like. The day before I was dressed up, eating at a fine restaurant networking with people who innovate and use the words “millions” when they talk dollars. Less than 24-hours later, I’m sharing moments with Marlon, a.k.a. 6’7″. He picked me out because I looked friendly and was tall. Lucky me.
I wanted to be alone. I wanted my $5 cup of coffee. I wanted some alone time. I also wanted to be available. It was hard.
Never Too Far
As I parted company with Marlon, I wanted to say something profound that could change his life. I didn’t have much. So as we said our goodbyes, I said to him, “Marlon, you mentioned that you are too far gone to get back on track. I know we haven’t talked much about me, but my life was brought back from a place I didn’t believe it could be. If you don’t ever remember me, please remember you’re never too far from God to be redeemed. You’re never too far from His reach.”
I don’t know if it registered at all. Or if it will ever make a difference. What I do know is that it’s true. It reminded me of why I’m thankful I’m living proof that I’m never too far from His reach. The other thing that hit me is how I can live in these two very different places. I wrestle with where I belong. Today I’m resting in the fact that I belong in both. As long as I’m available.