On the drive home from school this week, the kids and I met homelessness… twice.
He was dressed in torn clothes, elderly and walking with a limp and a severe curvature in his spine. The cardboard sign around his bearded neck simply read:
Homeless. Hungry. Anything would help. Thank you!
He was standing beside the entrance to the highway with a Tim Horton’s cup in hand. Our son was first to spot him from his window, and quick to inquire what his message read. I passed a few toonies to the back of the car, and they were received from small hands with gratitude and a smile.
Minutes later, the experience repeated itself. A worn-looking woman perhaps in her 30’s dressed in plaid shorts and hat, with cigarette and sign in hand:
Hungry. Homeless. Willing to work. Please help a sister in need.
There was a quick exchange of a bill from a child’s hand with simple words spoken, “Umm… here you go. God Bless you”. The moment was fleeting in the midst of a full day, yet the conversation that followed was impactful.
Mommy, why is he homeless? What was the money for? Why did he carry a cup?
It was one of those moments as a parent, when your words feel knotted in the back of your throat. How do I begin to explain this to our 5 year old son? Please give me wisdom God.
We talked about homeless shelters, reasons why we all need help at times, and how Daddy was homeless for several months in his 20’s. Each answer seemed to create new questions in his inquisitive little mind. My thoughts went to all the reasons why I try to avoid the homeless in my everyday life. The skepticism I can tend to have of how the help will be used or abused. A judgmental attitude about the journey that led to life on the streets.
A bold message from within cut off my thoughts mid-sentence.
Love isn’t about results. To love deeply means that you will be taken advantage of sometimes. That’s ok. Love anyway. It is still worth it.
I vaguely remembered the story of 10 homeless men, all faced with a slow death-sentence by leprosy. Removed from their communities, families and jobs, no physical contact allowed. Then the impossible happened. The God-Man crossed all acceptable social boundaries and reached out in love and healed them all. They were given a brand-new life! A chance to start over and be restored their dignity and worth.
All but one came back. All but one showed gratitude for the love received. Even after the experience, the Gift Giver kept extending Himself to others with love over and over again, all the way to a wooden cross.
The car pulled into the driveway and I felt thankful. To have had my soul stretched. To learn right alongside these little ones what it means to love without expectation. To be the recipient of extravagant grace.
Scripture References: Luke 17:11-19