|Outreach crowd lined up to hear the preaching and enjoy a hot meal afterward….
“I’ve been praying for you,” my homeless friend told me, eager to let me know. “And your dogs.”
Oh, how the words humbled me. How they inspired me. How they touched my heart. But it wasn’t just the words. No, it was the homeless man’s heart. For the man whom I had befriended over the past few Sundays at the outreach didn’t want to talk to me about what street corner, what homeless shelter, or where in the woods he would sleep that night. He didn’t want to talk to me about how he could really use a shower, or someone to wash his clothes for him. He didn’t want to complain to me about how hard it is to be homeless, or to ask me for any help. This same man, who had stood talking to me over Sundays past about His faith in Jesus Christ and questions He had about the Bible, wanted me to know he had been praying for me – and my dogs.
I, whom God had to remove from working with the homeless and others in need for a season so He could convict me of my haughtiness, my condemnation, my despicable pride, my wicked judgment of people for some of the choices they make, had recently been sent back by God to the same population of people – with a brand new attitude and a refreshingly humbled heart. God had taken a sledgehammer to the pride, to the fear mixed in with it, and to a host of other shortcomings that can so easily keep me from being filled with Him and from walking in the love of Jesus Christ. It’s a daily battle, the flesh working hard against the Spirit of God in me, and my renewed spirit needing to stand up and squash that fleshly, sinful nature so I can walk in His Spirit. When I walk worthy of my calling, when I live as the daughter of my Father in heaven He has called me to be, with the right heart, and the right attitude, I see, and witness, and experience, such amazing blessings like this one. A homeless man praying for me and my dogs.
“May I take your photo today, a photo of both of us?” I asked my homeless friend.
First he said yes. Then he changed his mind.
“Next week,” he told me. “I want to get cleaned up first.”
He looked down at his clothes, then looked back up at me.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter,” I told him. “See these shorts I’m wearing? I’ve worn them three times without washing them this week.” What he didn’t know is how God has worked in my heart. I have given away most of what I had, I live on a poverty level income, and I do it all in the name of the Lord that I may be fully committed to the work He has called me to.
“Really, next week,” he told me again.
“Okay,” I said to my friend.
When I walked away, and when I came home, home to my little house I live in when so many of my new friends have no houses at all, I could not help but think of this.
He is not the only homeless person who has prayed for me. Numerous times, my homeless friends over the past few years have asked how I am, showed their love and concern, made certain I was okay, told me they were praying for me, thanked me for preaching, reached out to me, inspired me, helped me carry stuff, loved, served, and taught me more about Jesus than I have learned from many who live in mansions with six figure incomes.
Why? They are real. They are raw. They are genuine. They are long past putting on any pretenses. They are not putting on a show. They know they are in extreme circumstances. But no matter how tattered their clothes, how filthy their bodies, how stinky their breath, how bare their possessions, how broken their lives, they have on the whole shown me a love, a respect, a friendship, an inclusion, a generosity, a kindness that I seem to see less and less of in the world at large.
It wasn’t so long ago I would have been too prideful to see the beauty of a homeless man praying for me. Now, through my own brokenness and God’s amazing grace, I see His majesty at work in something as simple, and true, as a homeless man spending his time praying for me and my dogs.
It is shocking to me I ever had the audacity to look down on any other human in this world. I have learned as the Lord has done a phenomenal work in me that He did not create me to look down on others. He created me to look up to Him. And when I look up to the Lord, I see that I am nothing without Him. And when I understand I am nothing without the Lord, then I have no desire to look down on anyone. Instead, I desire to reach out in love as the homeless man did to me to help someone else to see we are all nothing without Him. But with the Lord, and through the Lord, and in the Lord, as we learn to walk worthy of our calling through faith in Jesus Christ and a life committed to following Him, I, and we, can learn to do as the homeless man did with me. To love with the love of Jesus the Christ.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB