This week, I was on travel to make a presentation at a regional training conference. The conference was in a bustling metropolitan area on a coastline with a mountain range to the east. My morning view from the hotel was beautiful as it overlooked the sea. However, my travel to the government facility that hosted the training was typical of an inner city commute, mired by heavy traffic. Unfortunately, mass transportation was dangerous and insufficient and HOV lanes do not exist. Crosswalks were not plentiful, which caused work-bound pedestrians to cross lanes of traffic at unsafe points. Other onlookers seemed somber and appeared to stand still as if they had no place to go and no specific time to be there. It turns out, they didn’t – no job, no home, no money, and little hope.
The pollution trapped between the eastward sea breeze and the gorgeous mushroom spectrum mountains created an early haze that took six hours of solar pressure to release. The slow ride gave me plenty of time to see, even through the thick and opaque air, the appearance and expression of financial and spiritual poverty. Matthew 26:11 tells us: “You will always have poor people with you, but you won’t always have me.” (GNT)
Upon my arrival at the training facility, there were long lines of people seeking applications, interviews, and appointments to gain relief from their plight. Some will receive relief and an opportunity for a better life through escape. Others will not.
I waded my way through the people and entered a space that had a familiar feel; one with fresh, well circulated, floral fragranced air that was absent the gazes and scents of indigence. The circumstance created a sterile environment with a sense that all was good in the world. Meanwhile, I was separated from hungry broken souls only by a double reinforced steel door and 100 feet.
Thankfully, God is the bridge of peace between the sturdy and the splintered. The faux purity as well as the perceived sepsis can only gain true life through His unconditional love. Uniquely, His love multiplies as it is divided. To keep it, those who have it, must share it. He sent His son as proof of His love, an act greater than any earthly father would contribute or any human son would sacrifice. John 3:16-18 tells us “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his son, his one and only son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under a death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” (MSG) In This Man, Jeremy Camp sings: And we just don’t know the blood and water flowed and in it all He shows just how much he cares; and the veil was torn so we could have this open door and all these things have finally been complete. Would you take the place of this man? Would you take the nails from his hand?
So what is our part? I know that handing out greenbacks to every person in tattered clothing may not be the answer. Taking every beggar into our homes may not be the long-term solution. Moving to the slums of India may not be what we have in mind. But there is so much we can do. We can: smile and acknowledge the presence of as many human beings as possible; engage others in conversation while withholding judgment about how or why they got to where they are; educate ourselves that there is no hierarchy in humanity; pray, pray, and pray specifically; donate to a food pantry, or take a mission trip to volunteer our trade craft. There are many means we have to let Jesus’ light shine through our eyes, mouths, and hands. Jeremy Camp in Healing Hand of God tells us: I have seen the healing hand of God, reaching out and mending broken hearts. Taste and feel the fullness of His peace, and hold on to what’s being held out – The healing hand of God.
I reversed my ride amidst the neon signs of destitution and despair (homeless families sleeping on the street, badges of prostitution and drug use, hungry youth rumbling through trash, boarded up businesses, and constantino wired homes). Yet I know there is hope. I see it in the soup kitchens in churches, in the changed lives of the neighbors who are now sharing among each other the little they have, with the medical personnel who give some of their time to provide free treatment, and among those who take the time to speak to the faces of deprivation around them. All of these are acts of love and give hope to us all.
The return car ride brought about this cascade of thoughts:
- God is love and love brings hope
- Hope breeds joy and Joy brings smiles
- Smiles show happiness and happiness encourages
- Encouragement shines lights and lights illuminate paths
- Paths diverge but narrow ones lead to Him
- He is God, the great I Am
How can we join the walk of faith of another? By spreading the love of God. We can’t do it if we don’t engage. However, if we listen, ask, encourage and inspire, we can spread spiritual wealth. When was the last time you held a conversation with the face of spiritual distress or financial hardship? It has not been recent enough for me. Please, join me on the walk by starting today. What you say can make a positive difference. Hawk Nelson tells us in Words:
Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to you. I wanna speak your love, not just another noise. Oh, I wanna be your light. I wanna be your voice. Let the words I say be the sound of your grace…