Imagine loving your dog so much that you’d sleep outside on the streets during winter so that you could keep him with you. . . . . .
Imagine your Christmas present coming early on Christmas Eve and being . . . . two frostbitten feet from the steady freezing rain you slept in.
Imagine turning down alcohol when you haven’t eaten a square meal in days and you know a drink is the one thing that will take the edge off how desperate you feel.
Imagine having a mandated court day 850 miles away when you have no home, no car, no job, and no prospects . . . .
Imagine holding out hope, asking for prayer, and pressing towards God in the midst of THIS life.
Our church serves 350 meals, weekly, to our town’s transients (or those that find themselves here on any given week.) Three bus loads of hungry people are brought up from the local mission each Sunday and I get to be a part of their morning as a lay counselor and prayer servant in the dining room. Every week is stunning, a mind-opening, heart-rending experience. This morning, I met “Len” there . . . . . a bent and wind-beaten older man dressed in layers of black with the ever-present long hair and beard of the homeless. The experiences above are all his present reality.
He was able to come up to breakfast and the church service this week because his “dog’s in jail”, picked up by animal control for biting another homeless man. He’ll be held there for another eight days, giving Len a chance to stay at the mission . . . . they won’t normally take him because of his dog.
This got me to thinking . . . . why would Len choose a dog over shelter? A dog over food?? And why do so many of the homeless we see on the streets have animals? If not animals then a lover, it’s hard to see the men and women pair up differently each week, just trying to find someone to partner up with, to help them keep warm and safe and most of all not alone.
In my wanderings down the dark alleys of the minds of my new friends I learn more, so much more, of the Enemy’s sick schemes. I feel enraged as I watch how he covers people in shame. How he feeds them lies that keep them bound. How he tempts them with sex, alcohol and drugs. How he breaks apart families and rends the hearts of children. How he targets the most powerful of Kingdom warriors.
And I am stunned at how we, children of God, play along. At how we give in and give up. Feel hopeless. Decide there is nothing we can do to help. Keep a fight going, start our own argument, gossip needlessly and help tear something apart. How often we believe lies and live in the self-imposed isolated loneliness of our own hearts, homes, or churches, believing this to be the safe, happy place. We use our access to money to buy comfort that layers over our inner hearts and souls, providing a false sense of security and wealth.
The only difference between us and the homeless is often access to resources. We too often live despairing lives filled with hopeless repetition and constant striving for more of what will not satisfy. We too are often lonely.
And so I say to you: read these words and let your eyes be opened. Reach out. Reach out. Reach out. Speak truth. Believe truth for yourself. Reject lies. Know that He is Love and that love is most surely his language. Move towards others; mend a friendship, call a relative, greet a neighbor. The world is full of people, each one hungry for a touch, a word, a little Love in their lives. Satan offers it in the most destructive ways imaginable . . . and sometimes we offer no alternative. WE ARE HIS Sons and Daughters called to bring His KINGDOM here on earth! We MUST step forward with Love, in Love, and feed, warm, hug, help, heart our world.
It’s Satan that wants you to think it’s too hard, you don’t have enough resources, and the problems are inexhaustible. Jesus is Always Enough. He is the God of impossibilities. The God of the loaves and fishes. He takes whatever we have and He multiplies it. But we have to offer it to Him first. Never believe that what you have to offer is not enough or the little you can do today won’t make a difference.
Do you know what hurts the homeless the most? That we won’t even look them in the eye. That they feel sub-human, unacknowledged by passers-by; shunned.
How hard is it to look them in the eyes? To shake their hands or offer a hug? To ask their name and their story? To pray? To give them money and trust God with what they do with it? To not use any of the excuses in our heads to avoid doing something, anything, to help?
It’s easy; just open your eyes, reach for His hand, listen for His voice, and take the next step.