I keep thinking of the ocean the last few weeks. Its vast, unexplored beauty draws you to it, the blue mystical waters and the sun beating down to warm your face. It invites you in to take sail, but never warns you of the unforeseen dangers and storms. Your course has been charted and though you cannot see your final destination, you know what it is. You set sail and the waters are calm and the slight wind thrusts you forward as you set out. There are storms that arise and batter your boat and tug at your sails, but the storm always passes and a new day breaks, the sun shines through again and you continue on your course.
There are some who are caught up in the storm that rages fiercely and will not pass. Its waves just beat down, bent on destroying anything in its path. The sky becomes dark and menacing and the light cannot be seen through the darkness that is surrounding you. You find yourself tossed from the safety of your boat and now face the waves head on. You fight and cry for help, but there is no one there to hear your cries. You fight to keep your head above water and soon you grow weary. You become tired, your strength is gone and you feel yourself slipping into the abyss. You sink deeper and deeper into the cold dark waters, hoping someone will notice your need for help. As you struggle to return to the surface, you can see through the water that the storm above has passed and the light is once again shinning brightly, but no matter how hard you try you can’t break the through, no matter what direction you swim in you can’t break free. No one has noticed that you are drowning and your need of help. Though you keep struggling and searching you are trapped in the unforgiving waters.
Today someone broke through and saw the light. I was standing the park today when someone came up long side of me and grabbed me, it was Robert. I met Robert a while back in the park. Today he had been drinking, as he usually does, but today he was upset and desperately needed someone to talk too. Him and his wife are both alcoholics and they have a new baby boy. She is in a facility with the baby and is getting help, but Robert has not had much luck with getting help or programs that he can stick with. He came to me today with a plea for help. He said he wanted to get help and did not know where to go. I could see that he was drowning and sinking fast. I called Sean over, he is one of the men who live on the streets, and he lives there by choice. This is where he feels God has called him to be, living among those without homes. I asked Sean as to what choices or options were available to Robert. We discussed them and let Robert know that he had to make the first step, but we were there for him and would help him in anyway.
As we continued to talk the conversation took a different turn that surprised me. He spoke of Vivian who had come to the park the previous weekend and how drawn he was to her. Then he said he came to the park last week and this week searching for something and he knew he could find it there with us. He was not sure as to what it was, but he said he felt it when he was with us and when he was with Vivian last week. Then he started talking about how he cries out to God for help and wants a touch from God. He said, “ I want to feel his presence, I want him to consume me.” I started crying for this man and started praying to myself “Please Lord, touch him today, make your presence known to him.” Robert looked at us and said that he wanted to feel God in the way we do. I took Robert by the hand and asked if Sean and I could please pray with him and for him. He grabbed our hands, hung his head and broke down in tears. We prayed, we held him and let him know he was loved. As he raises his head up, his face was different; there was color back in his face. He turned to Sean and I and said, “ I see the sun and the world looks a little brighter now.” I don’t know what God did to Robert today, but as he left I thought, he broke through and made it back to the surface. He was slipping into the deep waters of the ocean, but for today he has made it back to the surface. I will continue to check on him and keep him in prayer. I pray that God did something in him today and continues to work in him. I pray that he makes it back in the boat and sets sail again, heading out on the course laid out for him and when the storms come again, this time instead of being thrown from the boat I pray that he breaks through the other side.
We packed up the truck to head back home, dropping Sean back off at the shelter. We were talking about Robert and as we were, I wanted to cry out. I understood Robert so well and what he was going thru today, because for the past month or so the storm has raged and I find myself being consumed by the deep waters. I fight and fight to get back to the surface, but find myself being pulled down deeper. There are times when my strength is almost gone and I want to give up the fight, but if I give up to the cold deep waters, I will never finish the task before me and reach my final destination. So, not knowing who to cry out too or whose hand to reach for, I continue to struggle back to the surface. I cry out to God to bring me back, back to were I can breath again and once again feel His warmth shine down on my face. I want to feel that embrace, the reassurance that I am safely back on the boat and on course.
Even though we love on some of most broken and lost people of this city every week and try and bring some kind of comfort and hope to them, people don’t realize that we also have our storms to weather. Yes, we have God on our side, but we still struggle and can be lost at times in the vast ocean when we are knocked out of the boat and we are also crying out to be rescued as well.