My life, these days, seems to be all about perspective. My days swing 180 degrees from one day to the next whether in the places I go or the people I'm around. Either way, I get to go to my home, at the end of the day, with some sort of normalcy.
A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by a man needing food. I quickly gathered some food and before I could leave for my next appointment, he asked for clothes. I explained to him that I was on the way to pick up my kids from school but, if he would give me his sizes, I would have them for him the following day. Sure enough, he returned the following day. This time was more personal. Plenty of conversation, clean clothes, blankets and the opportunity for him to shower. He's been back regularly since then, often times, to cut the grass or pick up trash around the building. Mind you, it's been a challenge. He knows the system. He can be aggressive. There's also an issue of personal hygiene.
Today, with the promise of bad storms in the area, we were trying to make sure that some of our visitors had somewhere to seek refuge from the storm. I and another friend loaded up our friend's belongings and took him to his "home" that we had heard so much about. I thought I was prepared...
Suddenly, I was reminded of a passage from Max Lucado's book "God Came Near" entitled Mary's Prayer. Mary, holding baby Jesus, is telling Him that his tiny hands would feel no satin, hold no pen, wave from no palace balcony. No, His hands were reserved for much more precious works; to touch the open wound of a leper.
We walked down the railroad tracks to a bridge affectionately called "The Bat Cave". Ironically, I've seen more bats flying around the steeple of the church across the street. There were none to be seen at "The Bat Cave". The local residents were sleeping on trash heaps complete with the rotting corpses of rodents. The smell of urine was stifling.
It's easy to try and rationalize and maybe come to the conclusion that "Well, they put themselves in that situation." Some even prefer that way of life. No drama. No responsibility. No accountability.
I looked down at the tracks that I was walking on as we left him there on his trash heap, the same tracks that seem to go on endlessly in either direction with a different destination on either end, and I thought about how completely grotesque I must have looked, sounded or smelled when I first encountered Jesus. I was the leper who, according to customs, had to yell "UNCLEAN!" to warn the other passers by so as not to be infected by my disease. I had become so overcome by this disease that I had become numb. The numbness prevented me from feeling the damage being done when I habitually reopened old wounds where, eventually, infection would set in and, eventually, I would begin to fall apart. But God, filled with infinite love and compassion, touched me.
He touched me! Oh, He touched me!
And, Oh, the joy that floods my soul.
Something happened and now I know.
He touched me and made me whole.
I'm so grateful that God didn't leave me to die as a result of my choices but, by grace, brought me back to life. So, how can I, in good conscience, not extend the same hand of grace to a world that desperately needs it?