The Proverbial Street Corner

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streetcorner Last night I was driving home late from church, excited about coming in my door, seeing my kids, taking a shower, getting a Diet Coke—in an essence, unplugging, relaxing, and definitely not working. As I was just two little streets away from mine, I saw a tall shadow lurking on the corner, and after squinting a second, I realized it was the son of a friend of mine.

That’s strange. It’s late. I wonder if his parents know he’s out. I wanted to keep driving, but something inside of me made me slow down and then eventually, stop. 

"Hey, buddy. How are you doing? Is everything ok?” I immediately thought it was strange he had his hands behind his back.

“Yes, it’s fine. Have a good night, Mrs. Guckenberger.” He waves me off. Hmmm . . . something felt shady. I wanted to ignore it but couldn’t. I put the car in park and walked over to him, and that’s when I saw him dump three cans of beer into the bush behind him as he opened his arms to hug me.

Lots of thoughts went through my mind in that moment, some of them judgmental, lots of them selfish; it was the sound of my flesh crying out. However, as Christ followers, thankfully, we have a force inside of us stronger than our flesh. When we allow them to wrestle, the Spirit in us wins every time.

“Whatcha got there?” I walk over to the bush and grab the beer (much, much to his dismay). I look up at him and see the fear (and pain) in his eyes. The Spirit wins inside of me, and I decide with the determination God puts inside of mothers that I will not let go. With my own children, I won’t let go ever. For this boy, who belongs to another, I won’t let go in this moment. He watches me as I pause for a minute to think. He nods when I say, “Why don’t you come over to my car and get in? Sounds like we have something to sort out here. . . . ,” and he reluctantly follows me and gets in. Then we spend the next hour together in a conversation of substance. We talk about everything but the alcohol. Why was he hurting? What was he escaping? Who is on his team? Why was there a battle, and how is it won? In those moments, I love him and love on him in the same way I would my own.

I was remembering earlier that day a friend of mine said she had recently repented of idol she was struggling with: her deceased father! She said she had come to believe it was he who was her protection and he who was her provision, and in her repentant prayer, she confessed that ‘everything he gave her originated with Jesus,' so the praise and the adoration belong first to him.

I decide in those moments to allow a true Father to use my mouth, my arms, my eyes to give counsel, correction, encouragement, and wisdom. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t my son; it mattered he was God’s son. God can use my maternal instinct, he can use my soft words to meet this boy where he is. I finish my time with him and walk inside, breathing a prayer that if (and when) my boys are ever on their own proverbial street corners with their own struggles, that a Father God would lead a willing mother to their path. And I pray that mother would wrestle down her selfishness to be written into a storyline bigger than her family.

Blessings,

Beth, BethGuckenberger.com

Photo c/o stock.xchng

Beth Guckenberger

Beth and her husband, Todd, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio where they serve as Co-Executive Directors of Back2Back Ministries. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in education, the Guckenbergers moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Since founding the international arm of Back2Back in 1997, they have hosted thousands of guests on the ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted children, they have raised ten children. Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014). Beth is the author of Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008), Relentless Hope (Standard Publishing, 2010), Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing, 2012), Tales of the Defended Ones (Standard Publishing, 2013),Tales of the Ones Led Out (Standard Publishing, 2014) and Tales of the Ones He Won’t Let Go (Standard Publishing, 2014).Beth is the recipient of the the 2013 International Network of Children’s Ministry Legacy Award and the Cincinnati Christian University Salute to Leaders Award for her and Back2Back’s impact on children internationally. She travels and speaks regularly at conferences, youth gatherings and church services. Her style is based in story-telling and she draws from her vast field experience as a missionary and parent of nine children for illustrations of biblical concepts.

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