I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that time spent at their house would result in my kneeling next to a couch making a huge and life-altering decision. I really should have seen it coming. The more time I spent there the more obvious it should have been. My eventual capitulation was as obvious as the zig-zag pattern on the crocheted afghan covering the back of their couch.
I lived in a low-income housing complex. Our “neighborhood” consisted of a circle of small attached two-story condominiums. We lived literally on top of one another. The walls were thin and the street was loud. You knew your neighbors because you saw and heard them everyday in a kind of forced intimacy. While we lived there, my mother worked two jobs and that left us five kids with a lot of free time and freedom. We went where we wanted, when we wanted. I was always amazed that none of us ever got into to trouble.
A couple of doors down from us lived a young family, the Harmons. The father was into a lot of the same “nerdy” things my brothers liked and they would spend time there building slot cars and trading baseball cards. When Mom was home it would often be my job to go “find” my brothers. I knew where they were and would go bring them home from the Harmons. This wasn’t something I looked forward to; the Harmons made me uncomfortable. Like most of the residents of the complex, they didn’t have a lot. They dined off of a picnic table and went to sleep on mattresses laid on the floor. They were happy and generous people who were always looking out for somebody. I never knew who I would find in their house; talking, drinking coffee or eating sandwiches, but it was usually someone I would have crossed the street to avoid. They shared whatever they had and that wasn’t much. And…I think Jesus lived there. They talked about him and to him constantly. I kind of expected to turn around and find him sitting on the couch. It sort of freaked me out. I would visit and then not come back for weeks.
Over time, my visits got more frequent, I would listen, watch and process. They had something and I found myself fascinated. I wanted to know what made people with so little so happy. I wanted to know what made them look upon people so differently. Why did they seem to genuinely care and go out of their way to help people. They weren’t religious people, they didn’t even go to church, but they were people with faith. They never preached their beliefs, they just…lived them.
So, one day I gathered up the courage to ask. I asked and what they told me seemed too simple, too easy, too unbelievable. But, as their youngest son once told me, “I know Jesus is real cuz he’s in my heart”. My heart told me the truth and so, I knelt before this altar and invited him in and who knows, maybe someday someone will think they see Jesus sitting on my couch.