Not Forgotten

Friday, April 02, 2010

We've all seen them. The nameless faces standing on street corners or in alcoves in front of stores on busy streets. They are the ones we try to avoid as we walk down the sidewalk on the way to the coffee shop or dread approaching as we come to busy intersections and see them standing there in shabby clothing holding cardboard signs. As they wait for us to come nearer, we carefully avoid meeting their eyes with ours.

We are afraid. We are afraid of the guilt we may feel when we say "no" to the asked for handout. We are afraid of the life they live. How did they get to this place? Was it from some addiction? Mental illness? Or simply bad luck and poor choices? Could it happen to us? We assure ourselves that it could not. We persuade our minds that each one of them has chosen this lifestyle and that they want to live on the street and be forgotten. And then we pass them by hoping to push their faces from our thoughts. Maybe we'll say a quick prayer for them and resolve to help out at the local soup kitchen some Saturday, but never do. But, occasionally, we turn around and walk back to them. One chilly morning a few months ago was one of those occasions.

The man was thin and dirty. He must have been well over 60 because of the amount grey in his long hair and the creases that cut deeply into his face. I could see that his beard hadn't been shaved for months. His shoulders were slumped as if he were used to carrying a heavy weight...but in his eyes there was a glimmer hope. When I approached him, he asked the expected question -- did I have some spare change? I shook my head but asked him if he'd like some coffee. He surprised me by simply answering that he was hungry. I told him to wait there while I went into the coffee shop. I got some coffee and picked out a hot breakfast sandwich. A few moments later I handed the man the sandwich and he held it in his hands as if to warm himself. As I turned to leave, he quietly said, "Thank you. God bless you" and began to unwrap his meal.

Later, as I sat in my car playing over the incident in my mind a wave of emotion swelled up within me. I felt tears begin to form in my eyes, but it wasn't sadness that I felt.  It was joy. I felt joy! God had given me a gift that morning. He gave me the opportunity to share some of what He's given me with someone less fortunate than I.  What a tiny sacrifice I had made but what a huge gift I received in return. God had given me the gift of joy in pleasing Him.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me' " (Matthew 25:40).

My tiny sacrifice pales in comparison to what Jesus Christ, in His love, has done for us. Over two thousand years ago on this very day, He willingly went to the cross and died a painful death in our place. Christ suffered the agony of bearing our sins upon Himself...to save us. He took on our punishment because He could see the joy before Him -- the joy of our salvation. And praise God! Three days later He rose from the grave and lives!

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2).

And what has become of the man in my story above? He is still here, living his life in a way that seems so foreign to so many of us. But each time I see him I am reminded that he is not forgotten. He is one of those who Jesus went to the cross for. And on this Good Friday morning, I received another gift. As I made my usual trek to the coffee shop, I stopped and looked at the man in his eyes. He smiled at me, paused for a moment and in a joyful voice wished me a happy Easter!

I pray that each one of you are blessed this Easter with the joy of knowing that our Lord Jesus Christ loves us with an amazing love.  We are not forgotten.  He is risen. He is risen indeed!

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2 comments

  1. He is Risen Indeed!!!

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I often think about stopping - but never do. I will keep your story close to my heart and pray that God will show when to reach out like you did.

    Love & peace,
    Iris

    ReplyDelete

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