As we were leaving a Walmart parking lot yesterday, I rolled down my car window and gave a dollar to a homeless man on the corner. He grabbed my hand and genuinely thanked me for the dollar, but asked if I had anything for a headache. It was so hot outside. No wonder he had a headache. Sadly, I didn’t have anything for a headache. We even searched the car and only found some essential oil, which we gave him.
We started down the street. My daughter told me that he was always on that corner. She said that the area she lives in doesn’t really have a homeless shelter, or helps for the homeless. She said that the homeless are told to go to a different town, hundreds of miles away.
I don’t know why, but I started to cry. I asked her to to go to a fast food place because I wanted to get him lunch. A little food and a cool drink might just help that headache. So, even though we had grumpy toddlers in the backseat, we turned and got some food.
I kept thinking of his face. Weathered. Tan and yet more dark from the dirt ground into his skin than the effects of the sun. Stringy hair. Unkept beard. Soft dark eyes. Deep wrinkles.
A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief began to play in my head.
I know that homelessness is reaching epidemic rates. I know that many people are annoyed with the trash and camps littering streets streets and towns, like in my home town. I know that some people are making an effort to make a difference. Still, I was deeply saddened that in a community that should have an understanding of Christ-like love, there is no homeless helps available.
What would Jesus do?
He would love them. He would offer them food so that their temporal needs were met. Then, when the immediate need was met, he would go about teaching them to provide for themselves. That’s what he did when he feed the crowd with a few loaves of bread and a few fishes. He met their temporal needs so that he could truly feed them, teaching them to lift themselves higher.
So what holds us back? Why is this homeless thing such an issue? What holds a person down? Self worth? Hopelessness? Illness? Addiction? Bad luck? Poor choices? Do any of these things excuse the rest of us from attempting to do something to help?
My sister runs a very successful homeless helping shelter in St. George, Utah. She no longer attends the church of our youth, but she understands the importance of caring for others, teaching them and helping them out of the darkness – at least temporally. She inspires me. If only her shelter could appear in all cities in Utah, helping the down and out to get on their feet.
What can I do? I can give what I can. I can see what homeless shelters in my home town need. I can help with the “store” at my school that helps out the homeless student population. I can follow the little voice in my head and buy lunch for a poor wayfaring man on the Walmart corner.
When my grand daughter asked why we were going to Burger King, her mom answered, “because grandma loves that man like Jesus.” I can’t say I’ve reached that level of love, but I can say it is my desire to be just like Him… to love like Him.
I will need to ponder on this question, “what can be done?” A little more.
A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath offended crossed me on my way.
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not power to ask his name,
Where to he went, or whence he came.
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love,
I knew not why.
Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didn’t them unto me.”
I want to hear those words. I don’t want to be caught hearing the words, “why did you ignore me; blame me; shun me?”
What Would Jesus do? He would love. Someday, I will love like Jesus loves. Someday.