The air was crisp and cold. A dusting of snow covered the ground – a typical winter morning in Central Oregon.
As I drove toward the intersection, an object caught my eye. It appeared to be a man lying in the gutter, knees touching nose. His dog snuggled close, all his belongings tucked at his feet.
I pulled through the intersection and watched him unfold – head then shoulders, each arm reaching toward the sky. His dog stretched in response to his movement. The remnants of sleep fading as he faced a new day.
His image faded in my rearview mirror. I refocused my attention and saw the sidewalks and gutters lining the road littered with tents, sleeping bags, makeshift structures. Men and women clumsily maneuvered the streets and in the distance, a group had formed to smoke and discuss the day.
I was caught off guard! I was one block from the local homeless shelter. Yet, the streets had suddenly come alive, humanity on display, broken and destitute.
This scene was unfolding at the doorstep to a place that would provide sanctuary. A refuge for all those that needed a bed, shower, a hot meal, and hope. One doorway away and yet, humanity chose gutter, and sidewalk, tent, and car.
At that moment my heart broke, tears welled in my eyes. Not solely out of pity for those relegated to the streets (although no one should have to live from gutter to curb) but because this scene reminded me of how many times I have chosen less. The many times God has offered sanctuary, hope, a refuge and I’ve said, “Thank you Lord but I’ll do it my way.” Times when I stand broken and destitute, attempting to maneuver through one circumstance after another alone – a vagrant.
My windshield filled with the image boldly displayed on the side of the shelter building,
Grace – Changes – Everything
And at that moment it became clear, my aimless, self-absorbed wondering ends at the place where I accept God’s grace – a shelter for my soul.
Psalm 62:1-2 reassures us,
1 Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. 2 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
The shelter stood amid a broken humanity, waiting for them to respond and receive. We stand in the presence of a grace-giving, merciful savior. He waits for us to,
BeLOVED, I encourage you to step out, beyond your self-sufficiency and accept God’s refuge because His grace does change everything.
Note: Homelessness in our community, in many communities, is on the increase. The loss of jobs resulting from the pandemic has caused relatively self-sufficient individuals and families to join the ranks of homelessness. Some, as depicted in this story, choose to stay outside of the systems put in place to support them. They are “loners” unwilling to accept the help provided. While most, seek and readily receive sustaining assistance. It is a complex issue, requiring a multifaceted approach to solve. Please join me in praying for all those who are houseless and homeless.
Psalm 27:1-9 (New Living Translation)
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.
For additional reading – Psalms 27 NIV – Of David. The LORD is my light and my – Bible Gateway
Take a few minutes to consider the following.
- Who or what are you trusting/following instead of God?
- What changes do you need to make in your life, your beliefs, and behaviors to completely surrender to God?