Counting it all joy

June 29, 2017

During Middle School Mission Week, FPC youth met Sam, who spreads the Gospel from the corner of Trade and Tryon streets

It started with a hankering for a food truck taco. Or, depending on how you look at it, with inspiration from a new member I’d met recently.

On Friday morning I’d been working on a profile of Daniel Haga, who joined First Presbyterian Church because he’s been watching the Sunday service on TV since he was a kid. He lives in Granite Falls. So you may never meet him in person, but you’ll meet him in July when the next issue of Tapestry comes out. When I interviewed Daniel, he kept mentioning that his favorite scripture is James 1:2. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…

Those words kept hitting me in the gut as I worked on the story about Daniel.

I’ve been struggling to make sense of a lot of things in the world these days. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to count it all such a hot mess that I want to pull the covers over my head every morning and refuse to adult. So I felt pretty sure that, through Daniel, God was reminding me to Count it all joy.

As I walked to the Square for a taco fix, I realized that I’d been fed spiritually while working on the story about Daniel. I wanted to smile at everybody I passed. Even the racket from the construction along Trade Street rolled over me like street music.

I launched into a conversation with Randy, the guy who runs SoCal Tacos, as if we’re old friends, which we aren’t. But we’re both old hippies, which is sorta the same thing. On Friday, Randy was a little discouraged. His business has been down by 50 percent since the street construction kicked in a few weeks ago. Just getting his stand in position on his corner is a challenge these days. I found myself telling him about Daniel and Count it all joy. Randy liked it and told me about his favorite scripture.

When he handed me my two carnitas tacos with green salsa and sour cream, Randy said, “Every time you come it’s like you bring a spirit of calm with you.”

Personally, I think he was experiencing Daniel’s favorite scripture, not me. Or maybe this is a case of Randy receiving back what he puts out into the world. But his words anchored the sense of joy a little deeper in my soul.

While I was still smiling, I turned and saw Sam, the street evangelist who also sets up shop on the corner of Trade and Tryon. You might’ve read about Sam in a post Pen shared on Facebook recently. I’m not a big fan of street evangelists. But Sam is different, as our FPC middle school youth learned this week when they met Sam while handing out water on their way to the Urban Ministry Center. Sam’s heart is as big as his voice—and I can hear him all the way from the front entrance to FPC when he calls out, “Jesus loves you!”

So when I saw him before he saw me, I called out, “Sam! Jesus loves you!”

Sam looked up, smiled and called back, “He loves you, too!”

I smiled all the way back to my desk. The rest of the day it was pretty easy to count it all joy.

– Peg Robarchek