Some people inspire me by just being who they are. Such is the case with my friend Arthur. Arthur had lived in the streets for 28 years; he ate out of dumpsters and slept where he could. After he came to Christ, Arthur’s life changed. I met Arthur about 6 years ago at the Salvation Army while I was there serving and he was staying in one of their housing units. A team from Freshwater was there serving food in the cafeteria while different people took turns singing and leading worship. When Arthur started singing, I stopped what I was doing and just listened; with his right hand raised to heaven and his left hand clasping the mic, Arthur sang with passion and joy. He gave all glory and honor to God and I was inspired. When he was finished, I approached him and he shared his story with me and ever since that night he and I have been friends. I am drawn to his infectious smile and transparent heart; he is the kind of person that makes you smile just because of who he is.
Three years ago, I presided over his wedding to Donna, and they now live in Richfield. I enjoy talking to Arthur because he inspires me not to let anybody steal my joy. Every day Arthur sits near the skyway between Macy’s and the former IDS building, he lets every person who passes by know that he loves the Lord and encourages them not to let anybody steal their joy. I often think of Arthur’s inspiring challenge when I feel beat up and defeated. I can picture him telling me not to let anybody steal my joy, then I ask myself who or what is stealing my joy. Often it’s a problem tied to a person, or a series of people and problems all strung together. When I take my eyes off of Jesus, it’s easy to start drowning in them. I can relate to Peter, who walked on water when he focused on Jesus, then started to sink about halfway when fear overcame him and he began to doubt, and his doubt caused him to sink.
Arthur inspires me to keep my eyes on Jesus and not to let anybody steal my joy. If Arthur can keep his eyes on Jesus, so can I. The other night, Kathi and I went out for dinner with Arthur and Donna and we laughed together, sharing stories of love and provision. Arthur is such an inspiration that he was even asked to deliver a motivation speech in front of hundreds of students and faculty at St. Thomas University. He asked for my advice on what to say and said he had nothing to talk about and had no idea how he could motivate several hundred people. My only advice was for him to be himself. He called me after the event and when I asked him how it went he said great. He commented that they even gave him a standing ovation. I said “what did you talk about” and he replied “I told them not to let anybody steal their joy, then I sang a song about Jesus.” I want to encourage you with the words of my friend Arthur, ‘don’t let anybody steal your joy, keep your eyes on Jesus, and he will carry you through whatever crisis you are dealing with today.’