Things I Learned from R. B. (May 3rd, 2020)


Jonathots Daily Blog

(4399)

Episode 13

Not every door is an opening to happiness, but instead. can be a passageway to a cave with no exit—a darkened confinement.

After three-and-a-half years of traveling with the family, we found ourselves ricocheting from one miracle to another.

Although miracles have a glorious side, they also warn of an inconsistent living pattern, which requires grace to be poured out in barrels instead of cups.

Our journey became irresponsible.

Even though we tried to remain pure in heart, it was becoming difficult to see God. We were truly poor in spirit but bewildered by our insolvency.

We certainly set our goals to be merciful to others, but we were overly dependent on obtaining mercy for our lackings.

We were broke most of the time, and the rest of the time, nervous about how soon it would be before we had nothing again.

The fellowship, the family time and the intimacy was so enriching that we were nearly unable to make solid human decisions about our daily responsibilities.

Coming upon an opportunity to settle into a motel room in Santa Clara, California, where we would work our rent off by assisting on the premises and filling in front desk duties—was just too alluring.

I legitimately wanted my children to be confident. Although they were growing in their faith, their personal sense of talent and capability was diminished by persistent trial and tribulation.

At first the motel situation seemed ideal. My wife was even able to get a job, which for the first time in a long time, gave us money without having to wonder whether it would soon trickle away.

But to remain in the situation and do it righteously required that we abandon our music, our mission and that closeness that can only be achieved by pilgrims on a journey to the same holy place.

We drifted apart.

My sons became too familiar with HBO at young ages and had too much time on their hands. (We were uncomfortable placing them in a local school, lest the teachers or authorities ask too many questions.)

For a little over two years, we experienced an unhealthy prosperity.

One day, a traveler passed through and talked to me about my situation. He remarked, “If the owner here has been charging you tax for your room, he owes you that money. Because after the first month, no one has to pay tax on a motel room.”

I laughed. I didn’t know it was true. So I joked with the boss about it when he came into work that day.

I left, went out to lunch, and when I came back, he was standing in front of my door with a check for three thousand dollars in his hands—apparently frightened that I would make more out of the tax situation than I ever would have. He decided to cover his butt by paying back the money, so he wouldn’t have to worry about being accosted in court.

After he left me alone, I stared at the check.  I realized it was three thousand good reasons to leave “the cave” and start looking for a door again. I didn’t waste any time because I didn’t want to waste any of the money.

We packed up that night and the next morning we rolled off to Sacramento, California. Within two days, we rented a duplex with three bedrooms, a sunken living room, a fireplace, and a huge dining room—a heavenly haven to call our own.

We decided to try to start scheduling concerts again and live off our talent. The first three months were tremendously successful. Wanting to celebrate that Thanksgiving with friends, we invited two from San Diego, and I called R. B., who was living in Tacoma, Washington, to come and join us.

For the first time in his life, R. B. jumped at an opportunity. I was shocked. I was anticipating a rejection, or at least a request for three days of fasting and prayer to decide.

He arrived—and he looked terrible. After a few conversations I discovered that he had lost his job four months earlier and was living off of unemployment insurance. He was drinking, smoking more and was quickly running out of money. It was the most vulnerable I had ever seen him.

As the tenderness of Thanksgiving swept over him, he was in tears several times, grateful for the opportunity to escape his Washington surroundings and be with those who accepted him in the form he arrived.

On Monday, the San Diego couple left. R. B. decided to stay on a few more days.

During that time, we played music, sang songs and even devised a plan so he could come and live with us, join the band and be part of the tour.

Even though my sons were not particularly favorable to R. B., they still thought it would be inspirational to have another band mate.

We laughed and cried our way to a local department store, where we purchased a matching vest for him, to go with the ones my sons wore.

He seemed to belong. More importantly, he felt needed.

Yet, two days later, as we were about to rehearse, he became very still. Something was amiss. After allowing him a space of time to come clean with his feelings, I finally confronted him.

He cried again—and these were not the tears of a grateful traveler. This weeping was coming from a place of fear.

He explained to the whole family that he wanted to travel with us and be a part of the band, but he was scared. All of his life, he had counted on a job to take care of his financial needs, and even though he wasn’t working now, he felt more comfortable occupation than he did launching out by faith, to see how far his abilities would take him.

I wanted to argue with him. But one thing I knew was that each human being sets his own time and place. If we try to find a place and establish a time, he will only rebel.

Two days later, he quietly packed his bag.

He silently ate a breakfast with us, and he walked out our door without saying another word.

I really did believe this would be the last time I ever saw him.

I felt mercy, because I, myself, just a few years earlier, had gone into a dark cave—because I was afraid of my circumstances.

“Be safe,” I spoke aloud.

The family looked at me. They didn’t know what I was thinking.

But they certainly understood what I felt.

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