Linda is off the hook crazy.
I first met her when my pastor friend Brian responded to a call FROM THE POLICE to assist in a domestic situation.
Brian and I drove down an ally to find a woman ranting and raving in front of what looked like a yard sale.
It wasn’t a yard sale, though. It was the scene of a recent eviction. Linda had just been forcibly removed from her apartment and was letting everyone within earshot know just how upset she was about it.
Linda, in her 50s, was wearing cut off jean shorts and a tank top that was more than happy to reveal the absence of a bra. She looked like she hadn’t slept in weeks and had possibly misplaced her bipolar disorder medication.
She pointed her finger in the face of the police officers and yelled, “You’re stupid. You’re stupid. And you’re stupid. This whole town is stuck on stupid!”
I don’t really remember the whole speech, but can assure you it contained too many obscenities to post anyway. I do remember that we had to leave her there because we couldn’t really help her.
Linda eventually learned more about our ministries at Midtown Commons and started coming around and chewing people out. Just about anything could get her going.
“I’m just for God and the kids,” she would proclaim in anger. “God and the (expletive) kids.”
And I believed her. She really wanted to please God by loving and protecting kids. I remember watching her cuss out a slumlord because of the negligence of one of his properties. A property which welcomed drug use and prostitution in the company of children.
But her erratic behavior really undercut her passion. People stopped listening before she finished her first point.
One day, Linda was hanging with us at the Commons and we started to talk. The Spirit prompted me to encourage Linda, so I told her, “You know Linda, you are really passionate and love speaking the truth. I think God really wants to use you.”
Her whole demeanor changed.
“Really?” she asked.
“Really.” I confirmed.
“No one has ever told me that before,” she confessed.
Ever since that moment, Linda interacted with us on a different level. Sure, she still got all worked up from time to time, but in general, she held her head a little higher.
Now I certainly don’t tell this story to build myself up. God prompted me and gave me words for Linda. So, don’t be confused and believe that I came up with some great way to interact with a mentally ill woman.
The truth, as God has revealed, is that those who believe receive gifts.
Everyone who believes.
And these gifts are from the same Spirit and are useful for building up the body.
Linda believes in the gospel… so much it makes her angry.
But her anger and mental illness don’t disqualify her from contributing to the body of believers.
She is useful for the works of God.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, ESV)
If I don’t believe that the same Spirit empowers me as well as Linda, then I have a serious problem.
So, lets invite the poor to take part in the work of the Kingdom. It may get a little rowdy, but maybe that’s how Christ designed it.