I have been pondering the encounters we have had lately not posting till I have processed their impact on me. Firstly we met Jimmy at an intersection where we cross from the neighborhood area to the more commercial area before the beach. We were standing waiting for the signal to walk and I heard a voice saying, “I know you won’t ignore me”. I hadn’t really noticed this guy trying to get others to help him out but Dave had. We turned and asked what he needed and he said, “Would you buy alcohol for my buddy and me?” I pointed to myself and said that I didn’t have any money on me and in truth I didn’t. Dave replied that we do not buy alcohol for people but we would buy him something to eat, perhaps some fruit. The reason Dave suggested fruit was the store we were standing in front of is an organic produce market. We named various fruits and he kept wrinkling his nose at each choice presented to him; finally he asked if we would get him fig bars. Dave and I have been in this market and it is not cheap so Dave told him if they didn’t cost too much because in truth he didn’t have that much on him either. We went into the store in search of fig bars which at least are real fruit and whole wheat, finding them Jimmy asked if we had enough money for them which Dave said he did. Jimmy then assured us he would share them with his friend but didn’t know if he would eat them since all he wanted was alcohol. We walked from the store together and his friend stood slack jawed, salvia dribbling from his mouth, obviously in a bad way. Dave and I left this encounter praying for these two men whose lives were obviously being destroyed by alcohol and asking Abba to deliver them. It is difficult watching people making choices which are literally killing them. It also makes one wonder what choices which don’t seem as obvious as alcoholism or drug addiction, are sucking the life, real life, out of people everyday and how often we are guilty of enabling their choices. “Am I my brothers keeper?” A question we ponder daily.
Later we were walking State Street and I had come prepared to give by putting some money in Dave’s backpack. We strolled along enjoying the very nice weather and watching the busy street. There are days when the homeless are not so in evidence, when the police or for whatever reason they have been displaced; this usually happens on the weekends when lots of tourist are present. I went into a couple of shoe stores just looking and scoping out prices since all this walking it is imperative to have good supportive shoes. Coming out of Sketchers I heard a voice say, “Can you spare some change”. This is something we hear a lot but I paused and glance up seeing a gentleman who has caught my attention before. We had seen him in McD’s one day and we had made eye contact. He was eating whether someone had bought him a meal or he had begged enough to get it himself I don’t know. I almost walked over then but saw another gentleman we’d met when we fed the street people in the park so we chatted with him and gave him some money (unasked for). Today I knew I had brought the money along for this gentleman sitting on the bench asking for change. I stopped Dave and removed the money from his backpack taking it to him. I did not ask his name nor offer prayer at this time, sometimes you need to just do a small touch and trust there will be an opportunity to do more when the time is right. He didn’t say thanks, he said, “God bless you.” I told Dave as we walked away I will take that blessing and we prayed for him while we walked. Dave commented that he looked like Kevin our Hebrew speaking gentleman that we’ve not seen again since our prayer with him. I said he did only a dissipated version; what Kevin would look like if he were an alcoholic and had lived a hard life for a long time. This again was a very visual reminder of what choices look like; two men similar in visage, in lifestyles both homeless but serving different masters. They live on the streets but that life is being lived differently.
Next I ponder Jack, our new neighbor in the RV Park for now. This huge rig pulled in while we were gone and for two days we saw no one going in or out. We posited that perhaps they had pulled in and then taken a vehicle to see something else in the area. The third day we briefly saw a guy come out take a taxi somewhere and then come back and not leave the motor home again that day. Don’t think I am nosy and watch everything that goes on in the park but when someone is parked ten feet from you it is hard not to notice if they are out and about. Yesterday while putting Gabe through his paces (his training continues) Jack was out washing his windows; I must pause here to say this is a super fancy rig and I would guess it would be worth $200,000.00 or more, Dave decided to formally meet our neighbor of four days. I returned to the trailer with Gabe and Dave was gone for at least ten minutes. It seems in those few minutes Jack, our mystery neighbor told Dave a lot of his life story. He had been very sick when first arriving and hence the reason it looked as if no one were in the motor home. He then shared his age, a recent divorce and basically his shall I say, non-enjoyment of life. Pondering Jack and his situation reminded me that Abba had told me while we were here in Sept. that the rich were lost too. My attention had been on the needs of the homeless then and it was a wake up call that I needed to broaden my spectrum on ministry. Here was someone who on the outside (the huge motor home) would look prosperous but who in a matter of minutes so needed connection that he would spill out his life before Dave on the first encounter.
These encounters were grievous to my heart. They were thought provoking to say the least and gave me plenty to pray about. It also reiterates to me the importance of being open to grace points no matter how they present themselves.
Lastly Abba in all His graciousness had Mitch our former neighbor drive by on his motorcycle and say hi. Mitch and Dave had parted with the ‘we might not see each other till heaven’ words, but here he was just when we were outside, riding by and paused to chat. Life is strewn with grace either toward one or coming from one; Abba knows who is in need and how we need to touch their lives in order to bring His love to them at any given time. He also knows how to make sure that we do not grow too weary in the midst of the needy by refreshing us with His grace and unexpected connections. Never underestimate the grace of our Savior who died to make sure that we could again access Abba’s love, nor underestimate the Spirit’s leading in ways we can’t always fathom.
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