Yesterday morning, I sat alone in my car before church, thinking about all the homeless people who were back on the street now that the winter shelters had closed a few hours earlier. Eventually, I looked out my car window and saw a man sitting alone on the stage in front of the church, peacefully enjoying the beautiful spring morning, and I had a sudden urge to join him. I walked across the lawn, sat down and introduced myself. We began to talk.
I told him that my heart was heavy about the closing of the winter shelters for the homeless. I told him I’d been at the women’s winter shelter the night before and talked to women who were leaving the shelter without a permanent place to go. Their faces and their stories were fresh on my mind this morning. And moments earlier, on my way to church, I’d driven past the soup kitchen and seen a man carrying a duffel bag, as well as a full trash bag slung over his shoulder. It seemed likely that he was among those who had stayed in a winter shelter, and was now carrying all of his belongings with him, with no place to go. I’d also talked to the guys at the tent city that morning and was planning to take food and other necessities to them after church. They’d had three new residents come in even before the shelters closed, and they expected more. Adding to my concern was the recent spate of bridge and camp cleanups by the City and private property owners. Where will people go, I wondered? My worry and anxiety were evident in my words.
The gentleman sitting beside me listened in silence. There was a quiet pause after I finished speaking, as if he were carefully considering my words and his response. And then he said, “You remind me of someone. I used to be out there. And one day, when I was sleeping, a woman came and ‘tap, tap, tap’, knocked and woke me up and asked, ‘Are you hungry?’ And then she prayed for me. And she came back, with her father, this time. And she prayed for me again. And not two weeks later, a man came by and offered me a room in a place that I could afford. And I’ve been there ever since. And when you came walking up the lawn, I thought, that’s how she looked when she walked up to me.”
I felt very still inside. I felt as if the LORD Himself had spoken to me. I could feel His presence there with us. I could feel His spirit replacing my worry and the anxiety with quiet and calm. My Father God said to me, “Go. Feed my sheep. Pray for them. Be with me. Trust me.”
I said to my new friend beside me, “God is good.” And he answered, “Yes, he is.”
We sat quietly for a few moments and enjoyed the green grass and the blue sky and the white clouds and the huge trees and the soft breeze and the birds flying and the insect sounds and the worship music coming through the windows and the God of the universe who uses the willing and cares for the broken and answers our prayers and makes a way where there’s no way.
And when we parted, my friend said to me, “I hope I see you again here.” I said, “Me, too.” He said, “You look for me, and I’ll look for you.” And I said, “I will.” And then I went inside to go to the service, with my heart and spirit full of the worship experience I’d just had.