The Homeless Have Hearts

The homeless have hearts, don’t they? I used to see scraggly beards. And smelly dirty bodies. I walked over, or around, old men with cardboard signs stationed at street corners earning their day’s coins. I stared at shopping carts being driven by unlicensed drivers – skinny ladies in baggy clothing steering their suitcases, their shopping carts jammed with their sole belongings. Liquor breath, downtrodden bodies, old army boots stuffed on weary feet.

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Weary from walking where so many of us have never walked. Down the streets of broken dreams, or no dreams at all. Secondhand gloves, with holes, secondhand coats, with holes, socks and such all with holes, secondhand living. Scavenging through dumpsters for a three-course meal of soggy, stale, maybe moldy crumbs of somebody’s fancy dinner party from nights ago. Maybe, on a good day, a grand day, the man on the corner, his homeless dog stashed close beside him for warmth and safety and company because who else would possibly come that close, the grimy man with broken teeth would dive deep into a takeout container of leftovers from a four-star restaurant.

The good soul who handed off her dinner remains kept her safe distance as she handed off her container of charity before going home perhaps to write it off on her taxes. Or tell her girlfriend how she helped a sorry soul perched permanently on the corner of the highway of life, waiting for the next handout from someone seeking absolution from a good night at the bars, his supposed penance a drunken handshake with the homeless man without a name. Just another face without a home. Without a dream. To the world all around, without a life. Without a life with value anyway.

But my ex-husband remembers to this very hour how I knelt down on the ground next to a man who looked like he had never had a home since the day he was born. He might have had AIDS. He might have had another disease. He might have had anything at all. There was no hesitation in the way I knelt down beside him. Nor how I spoke to him. Nor how something had begun to crack inside of me. One long, jagged crack in a heart so hard it took still years for the Lord to bang and chisel and sledgehammer away at all of my tough, hardened exterior to slowly, lovingly, mercifully, expose the woman I am today. Broken. Broken before Him.

For I, too, was without a home. I grew up in wealth; I had everything I ever needed. With the only exception that mattered in the long run, in the grand scheme of the eternal picture. I was missing Christ. I had no home in the Lord’s Kingdom. I had no home inside me for Him to reside. I was homeless in my heart. My hardened, homeless heart. Oh, where did it belong? And even when He came and overtook me, still that hardness took so long to be broken away. So here I am. Broken in His hands. Humbled. And seeing. Not just with older, wiser eyes. For any wisdom at all is from above. But seeing with my heart. The new one. His.

And today as I spent the early afternoon in a little room jam packed with homeless women, and as I sat outdoors with yet another homeless woman pouring out her heart before me, I saw what all those years ago I could not see for the life of me. I saw hearts. I saw brokenness. I saw desperation. I saw need. I saw desire. I saw giving up. I saw holding on. I saw hardship. I saw wounds. Scars. Cuts. Scrapes. Bruises. All the way on the inside. So buried, so squished and scrunched and held in the darkness of broken hearts that who would have known? Not especially those of us who have tossed our leftovers into the filthy hands of the dying. Not dying in hospitals.

Dying on the streets. Dying from starvation from love. From hunger for Christ without even knowing it. For some, having met the Lord and never gone another step. Not knowing Him, not pursuing Him. Lost. Still lost. Ever broken. So hungry they cannot even name their hunger. As the world marches on, pursuing its pleasures, as hearts die more, break further, fall deeper, over the cliff into whatever escape may remain, sleeping in old blankets wrapped in the arms of strangers, or are they friends? Seeking whatever will suffice because in all of this, who stopped for more than a minute maybe to pop more coins, or another couple of sweatshirts into hands grabbing, groping, for anything, anyone, to meet the need?

The need for what? For Jesus. But who will tell? Who will say it? Who will teach it? Who will look past the homeless faces, the nameless bodies, and see the hearts?

I see now. And I have no Styrofoam containers full of steak and salad, of potatoes and corn bread. I have no big salary to hand over big bills to the need. I have no extra room in my small house crammed with mostly special needs and senior rescued dogs for a person to occupy. But I see. I see now. I see the hearts. The broken hearts. Like mine. So many of their stories so similar to my own. Abuse. Addiction. Rejection. Abandonment. Post traumatic stress disorder. Hurt. God, so much hurt. Will I ever be loved? Does God really love me? Will I make it? Will my life ever be more than this.

I see. And I have. Not the silver and gold in abundance. The faith. The hope. The love. His Word. I have His heart. And I see theirs. And mine, my heart, no longer hard, breaks for this world.

I was lost once. Now found. I am a bridge. Between the dying, the headed to hell, the living hell already right here, and the Almighty. So I stretch one hand out to the forgotten, the neglected, the abused, the clamoring for something to save, and I stretch out my other hand to the magnificent. The Lord. And I bridge the gap. I share His Gospel. I teach His Word. I tell not just how to get to heaven. But how to hear Him, how to learn of Him, how to live according to His Ways. Here. Now. On this earth.

I am a bridge of hearts. For now I see His. And theirs. The world’s heart. And mine, my own heart, it yearns. To tell the world He came to save. And He came to heal the broken hearts.

Like mine. Like theirs. Like yours.

For Him.

     34” “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ ” Matthew 25:31-40 KJV

“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” 5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.8With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9And all the people saw him walking and praising God;…” Acts 3:1-9 NASB

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