Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lessons from a Homeless Man

It was a Monday morning. The kids were off to school and my husband and I were each beginning our daily routine when the doorbell rang. Now this is not an unusual event. We both started to the door but he arrived first and opened it up. There outside our front door stood a man who looked like he needed food, a shower and a haircut and I’m not sure in what order. I quickly slunk back into the shadows around the corner but not too far that I couldn’t hear what he was saying. The conversation went something like this:
Man: Good morning sir is this part of the church?
My Husband: Yes it is can I help you?
Man: Well I was walking along the road last night and I saw the church sign so I slept overnight in the ditch and thought I would come this morning to see if there would be anything at the church I could eat before I went on my way.
Me (in my thoughts): What! This guy actually slept in the ditch by our house?
My Husband: Well there is nothing at the church but you can come in and my wife will get you some coffee and something to eat.
Man as he enters our house: Thank you…that is very kind of you.
Now by this point I am nervously, visibly shaking just thinking about having this guy in our house…and who knows what he is up to. I try to give my husband that signal like, ‘you’ve got to be crazy,’ but he seems to not want to catch on. He leaves the man on the chair by our front entrance and comes into the kitchen where I am still frozen on the spot and shaking. Seeing that I’m not budging he starts to get some coffee ready, leftover breakfast and cookies.
As the man downs the food they continue talking. The man then asks how far it is to Ingersoll to which my husband inquires if that is where he needs to go next. He answers in the affirmative. “Well,” says my husband, “we are actually heading out in a few minutes and that is on our way so we could drop you off somewhere there.” Now at this point I am in a state of panic and fury. We are now going to have this dirty, smelly homeless guy in our vehicle? He will be sitting behind me and who knows what will happen. But the arrangements are made and much to my horror we are soon on our way.
As we drove down the road this man had many stories to tell. He had walked across almost all of Canada and had witnessed much in his travels. But then he told us a little of his family and how he became a wanderer. We told him that he should write a book about his travels. As the conversation progressed my husband asked him if he had or ever had read the Bible and it was then that he dug into his backpack and pulled out his own worn copy. Not only did he have one but we could tell it was used. And then it was my turn to sit in shame. Nobody knew but I felt worse than that dirty, smelly homeless man. For who knows all the reasons why he was doing what he was doing? Why couldn’t I have put aside my fears and welcomed this man into our home in hopes of spreading the gospel to him? By the time we dropped him off I was almost wishing he could come back so that we could take care of him but I realized that this was his life and that my husband (not myself) had brightened his day by giving food and drink to this perfect stranger. Those are the times we wish we could turn the clock back and start the day over but since that is impossible we must learn the lesson that is being taught and continue on, striving to live our life more and more as Christ would have us to do.

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