It was suppose to be a cold wet rainy Easter Sunday, but God smiled on us today and gave us a beautiful day in the park. Many of our regular street friends and many new faces showed up to share a meal with us. As much as I love hanging out with all that show up, there are the times when the crowd leaves and a handful remain and you get the chance to sit one on one with someone and really get to know that person. The end of our day was one of those times.
If you passed him on the streets or saw him in the park, many would at first glance say “Oh, just another homeless drunk guy.” Yes, he had been drinking but when he began to tell me a little of his story, his mind was clear and passion flowed from his heart. He spoke of a beautiful woman he fell in love with as a young man. Head over heals for her and how nervous he was to ask her to marry him. After they married he said she wanted to spend their honey moon in the Holy Land, so he made sure that is were they went and he talked of the amazing time they had there. They started a family and life was going good for them. He worked as an EMT as well as going to seminary school. He dreamed of becoming a preacher and his wife started a street outreach in Portland. She was helping women who were prostituting themselves get off the streets. Life couldn’t have been better he said.
Then one morning as he was on his way to school with his family in the car a truck hit them. The only person who was injured was his wife and as she lay dying, he frantically tried to save her. She never made it and his world came crashing down. The love of his life was gone and his heart forever broken. His life spiraled downward, his hopes and dreams were shattered and he turned his back on the God he once loved. Years of torment over not being able to save his wife and hatred toward God brought him to the life he now lives, wandering the streets and drinking to kill the pain of a love lost. You see the pain in his eyes when he speaks of her and you see it in each tear that flows down his face. Then he begins to smile and he tells me, but I no longer hate God for taking her. He then pulls his shirt to the side and shows me a tattoo. He tells me, you see Jesus is first in my life now; I have him tattooed over my heart because he comes first in my heart. He says he asks God to forgive him for drinking, but he has come to a point were he can’t seem to stop without help. His drinking has brought on liver failer, but he tells me this with no regrets or fear in his voice, yet instead with a smile in on his face. I ask if I can pray for him and he say sure, but tells me he is okay with it because he can’t wait to see Jesus and his love again. There is much more to this man than what you see from the outside, if you only will take a moment to see past what the world sees.
Each of us a road we must walk, a journey that is each our own. Each step on that journey makes up whom we are. Some have someone to hold their hands or help them when they stubble and others may not. No matter what, our journey has brought us to where we are today. The questions is can we take the time out of our own journey and stray of the road in front of us to maybe help up and hold the hand of a fellow traveler who has stumbled and fallen. Taking the time to understand their journey and maybe showing them a new road to take or better yet, maybe even sharing the journey and traveling the road together, helping each other along the way.