Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Drifter


Every Thursday my husband, Mike, takes our son to Bible study at the local McDonald’s. It’s a great weekly ritual of Micky D’s breakfast with friends and a dedicated teacher who helps them unravel the meaning of scripture and apply it to their lives. This is something I love about our community. Throughout the week, you'll see groups of people gathering for Bible studies at many local restaurants.

Leaving McDonald’s last week, Mike noticed a homeless man sitting on the curb at the corner of the building.  This man was having his own private and personal Bible study. Mike thought about stopping to talk to him, but he wasn’t sure what to say. That thought was twisting in his conscience as he pulled out of the parking lot. At that moment, his phone rang. He answered to hear our 12-year-old son say, “Dad, did you see that homeless guy reading his Bible? You need to go give him some money.” Josh had noticed him too as he had gotten in the car with his Bible study leader to head to school. Well it hardly took a second for my husband to turn his car around. He parked his car, squatted down on the curb next to “Tex Squires”, and began a conversation that lasted 30 minutes. That’s a good long time for a man who wasn’t sure what he was going to say! Actually, Tex did most of the talking. As Mike listened, he observed that Tex was sober, smart, and articulate. Not your stereotypical homeless man.

During their exchange, people streamed in and out of the restaurant. Mike sure got some weird looks and second-glances sitting there on the ground with this weathered drifter.

So why is he a drifter? Well – he has a back-story just like every other person on this planet. In his own words, he articulated that he has a “messed up family.” Growing up, his daddy always told him he was worthless. The precise words Tex heard repeatedly throughout his childhood were: “You are a worthless bastard.” Can you imagine hearing that day-in and day-out? In addition to the verbal garbage about being worthless, Tex’s Dad constantly threatened to kill him. His most recent exchange with his dad included the words, “I’ve got a bullet waiting for you.”

Tex’s mom wasn’t much better. When she actually wore clothes at home, she dressed provocatively – wearing Daisy Dukes when his friends came over. She was an embarrassment to Tex and eventually had an extra-marital affair.

Tex loves Jesus and believes strongly in obedience to God “like the Bible says”. But he’s seen too many Christians act one way on Sunday morning, then turn into different people outside of church. So Tex doesn’t trust anyone – only his dogs. He declared to my husband that he has willingly and intentionally checked out of society. Hearing his back-story, I can’t say that I blame him.

God has established a tender spot in my heart for those our society views as “outcasts” and “undesirables”. Truth is, everyone has a back-story. Everyone has value. And everyone needs someone who believes in them – beginning with our own children then working its way outward.

There are lots of people like Tex on the byways of this world. Problem is, how often do we "see" them? How often do we sit down on the curb or start a conversation with them? You know what I love? I love the fact that our son actually noticed this guy. An overwhelming majority of society would just walk on by without even seeing him there. If they did notice him, many would judge him or turn their heads the other way without a second thought. But Josh saw him and called his dad. That’s a whole lot like Jesus who noticed the beggars, the lepers, the blind, and so on. When they crossed His path, He loved on them (and listened to them) because that’s what His Dad wanted him to do. Christ followers – there are people who cross our path each day that we never "see". They all have back-stories and struggles. They all have value. What would it take for us to open our eyes and see those people through God’s eyes. He made them in His image after all - even the "outcasts".

And God calls us to love them.  

"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another . . . if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." 1 John 4:10-12

Oh yeah. Tex says he’s going to write an e-book about his life and call it “Worthless Bastard.” If you ever see that title out there you’ll know where it came from.

And if you're one of those people whose back-story is a little like Tex's, hear the truth from me now. God loves you deeply. You are extremely valuable to Him - and to me.

Thanks for stopping by . . .