Jerry is frustrated and I would be also.

Yesterday He and I drove around Nashville attempting to fill out job applications.  We are attempting to prove to his probation officer that he is not a lost cause.  The first place we stopped at was a Taco Bell, where the teenager behind the counter told us that she “ain’t seen the applications” and then just stared at us.  After the awkward silence I asked if maybe she could check with the manager.  A few seconds later she returned to inform us that they were out of applications and he would have to fill one out on the website.

We then drove across the street to K-mart.  They at least provided the computer.  Jerry sat down at the desk and looked up at me like, “now what”?  He told me he had never touched a computer before. Jerry is 46 years old.  Sometimes I forget how different our worlds are.  He had no idea what the mouse did or that you type a word on the keyboard and it displays in the little boxes on the screen.  It took us 2 hours to fill out the application.

It was during this first application that I realized something – Jerry is not going to get a job.  To answer the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Jerry had to pick only three because there were no more spaces for answers.  aggravated assault, violating probation, and so on.  We talked about the felonies.  He said that he was drunk in every one.  He hates that he has gotten drunk everyday for almost 35 years (when he was not in jail).

Except…Jerry has not drank anything in 4 days.  He says that he has a new hope.

The application also has a section for education.  The options for “highest level of education” started with high school.  Jerry did not finish the 8th grade.  He had no experience.  He has not had a job in 16 years.

Jerry would not do well in an interview either.  He gets nervous around people to the point that he starts to shake and he can’t speak.  I realized that it is just not likely that Jerry will get a job.

As I dropped Jerry off back at home I asked him if he wanted to go to Ethos (our church) with me.  He said that he would let me know.  I didn’t believe him.  I don’t know why I continue to doubt the power of the hope of Jesus.

Sure enough he called this afternoon and asked to go with us.  We picked him up and Brit got to meet him for the first time.  She love him, of course, and we headed to church.  He told us on the way that he gets real nervous in crowds but that Xena had told him that our church was “good people”, so he thought he could handle it.  We were a bit early and we found a seat in the middle.  As soon as we sat down someone walked right up to Jerry and asked if he wanted some coffee or hot chocolate.  I could tell he was nervous, but he said he would take some hot chocolate.  She gave him a welcoming smile, made him the drink and brought it back.   She told him that she was glad he came to Ethos.

I am so glad to be attending a church that welcomes everyone with open arms.  Not in the typical “glad you’re here” cheesy-ness, but with a real authentic and loving heart.

He sat listening intently to the music and then the teaching.  I saw a couple of times he would nod in agreement with something.  I could tell he was getting what was being taught, and what was taught was repentance.  The teaching was a beautiful explanation of turning from what binds us and taking hold of Jesus, fully.  After the teaching he opened the floor for people to admit any way in which we had been pursuing things other than Jesus.  One by one we watched people stand up, confess their shortfalls and promise to turn away. There were guys in situations just like Jerry and guys just like me.  Guys who were scared, guys who were selfish, guys just like us.

When we walked out the first thing Jerry said to me was that he really wanted to change his life.  We talked a bit about what it looks like to give your life to Christ and turn everything over to him.

Then we went out for pizza.

Brittney asked him what he likes to do.  He said that he doesn’t really do much at all because he is always drunk.  He said that the last four days he has been bored out of his mind.  Then he told us how he really likes to draw, mainly with pencils.

We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way home and bought him some pencils, a sketch pad, some snickers bars and coke.  I figured at least it would give him something to do.  We brought him home and I helped carry in the groceries.  He asked if I wanted to see any of his drawings.

My life will never be the same.

I had no idea.  One by one he showed me sketches of people, waterfalls and animals.  The people were so real.  It was as if I could see the pain in their eyes or the joy in their smiles.  I have seen a lot of art – I live in Nashville – but I don’t know that I have ever seen anything with such raw beauty.  He showed me one that someone had him do while in jail.  He didn’t give it to him because he never paid him.

The going rate in jail for one of Jerry’s drawings?  3 Sticky Buns.

He said that was a really high price inside.

I realized that the beautiful images Jerry could put on paper or on the side of a cardboard box were nothing compared to the image of God that Jerry represents.  The jobs, the drinking, the years waisted, they are nothing when compared to the image of God that Jerry represents.  Jerry is not defined by his shortcomings or failures.

He has already been defined by his creator.