God comes to us at times in a ‘distressing disguise’ as I discovered last night:
As I waited for my taxi home from work at around midnight last night I saw one of the local ‘characters’ of our town coming towards me. She was muttering something to herself as her rotund frame stooped to closely examine some junk mail on the footpath which I had stepped over about five minutes previously. After some debate with herself it was retrieved and carefully placed in one of the two supermarket bags she carried. Upon straightening up she caught sight of me, waved, mumbled and shuffled towards me.
Having some knowledge of this character the thought, “now would be a good time for my taxi to arrive”, crossed my mind as I was greeted by the pungent bouquet of stale urine and sweat with tones of cigarette smoke layered over alcohol. However, last night Joan was just in the mood for a chat so she yarned, while I nodded and made encouraging noises, telling her my name five times over. She was convinced she could remember me from somewhere. It’s possible, I certainly remembered her, though I do hope my general behaviour is less memorable than hers. We discussed my job and why I was out so late, she told me details of her birth and her life. One comment stuck in my mind, “the doctors tell me it’s not my fault for being like this, my parents did it to me, but I still choose to drink so it is my fault.”
I was then presented with a hand-made Easter card, given a hug and God’s blessings and she wandered off into the night.
An odd wee encounter which did leave me thanking God – thanking Him for Joan and a number of other people like her in various ways who have survived many years of wandering the streets in all weathers, at all hours of day and night, enduring constant mocking, jeering and abuse. Thanking God that they are ‘OK’, they are still around, some of them do know Jesus, and that in faltering ways our society at least protects their basic humanity and some dignity.
Of course I also thanked God that I am not living my life as an alcoholic wandering the streets.
I thank Jesus for reminding me of his grace in keeping the choices I make from so very easily tipping me into a chaotic life.
He also is thanked for reminding me to pray for these, His children, the little ones whose being led into sin will be punished, these lost who He came to find, these sick and cold and hungry who He commands us to heal, feed, clothe and comfort. I thank Him that even despite the lousy attitude of my heart He conversed with Joan and had compassion on her, leading me as a petulant child on a brief interlude of love.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
(Luke 19:10 ESV)