when i was hungry…you lectured me about my work ethic
January 27, 2010, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Stuff | Tags: , , ,

isn’t that how that verse goes?

i’m reading a devotional right now. i’m not much of a devotional guy. most of them just try to re-affirm that we are right in what we believe so we can go to sleep with a warm fuzzy feeling, knowing we are right. i’ve been wondering about that idea lately, about being right, and how important it is, or whether its all that important. because you can be right…yet so wrong at the same time.

the devotional i’m reading is about a guy and his friend who decided to live homeless for 5 months as a social experiment to see how it felt to live that way and to have people treat you that way. and for the most part, they were treated like dirt. kicked off property and out of buildings. they write about their experience, and try to encourage christians to actually live out the teachings of scripture. what a novel idea…to follow with our heart the things we know in our head. i have no idea what it means to be homeless. the closest experience i’ve ever had would be when i went on tour with MEANS in the summer of 2005. none of us had lots of money. we were a small band, so there were no contracts or money guarantees at each show. so most of our money was poured into food and gas. we depended on the kindness of teenagers at shows who would call their parents and ask if some strangers could sleep at their house. we depended on the kindness of friends of friends, who often took us in with little to no questions asked and treated us like gold. there were a few nights we slept in the van. one memorable night, matty g. decided to sleep outside in the grass with his sleeping bag. we were in some random parking lot, and were too tired to check our surroundings. i woke up early and went to Tim Hortons. i came back to see a policeman pulling up to the van. he asked questions, like “why is that guy sleeping next to a dumpster beside a daycare?” it was then i realized our surroundings, and thought maybe it would be a little scary for a toddler to see homeless guys sleeping in a van next to a dumpster. there was about a week out of that month where we either drove through the night, or simply slept in the van. it was hard. you don’t sleep well. you get grumpy. at least i did. the kindness of strangers means the world to you. but i don’t mean to compare ourselves to those fighting homelessness. because we were far from it. at any time, we could have called our parents, and they could have rescued us. not to mention our thousands of dollars worth of musical instruments in our possession. we were still rich even when we were poor.

the most memorable night came about halfway through our time on the road. i remember being fed up. i was tired, we had no place to go, no shows for a few days, and it felt like i would never be home. it was a sunday night, so i decided to seek out a church. so i walked until i found one that was open. i went and sat down. it was just any old church. nothing too exciting. but having not been to church in a while, and being someone that was hoping to find a place to sleep, i thought it would be a good place to be. i went and got the guys and we went back. matt and i sat in the service. it ended soon after we arrived. we just sat for a bit, unsure of who to approach. at this point, we looked pretty homeless, even though we weren’t. a lack of showers/clean clothes/long greasy hair can make you look that way. few people talked to us. finally, a guy in front of us acknowledged our presence and asked what we were about. we told him our story. a christian band from out west looking for a place to sleep. i hoped we had hit the jackpot. i hoped we would have someplace to sleep for at least a night or if we were lucky, two. he smiled at us, and made small talk for a bit, almost as if he dodged the obvious. when it came up again with another person who had joined us, the awkwardness really set in. the first gentleman was at least honest with us. maybe a little too honest with us, but at least he was honest. apparently, the building next to the church was theirs also. it was full of couches, as they were in the process of setting up a youth center. but (that word that always comes after those too good to be true sentences) they didn’t know us, so they couldn’t trust us to stay there. i would have been less angry had they not mentioned the empty building full of couches next door…i could have understood them not wanting us to stay at their homes…but it felt like a slap in the face. they gave us $20, prayed over us, and walked away. we walked away with our $20 unsure what to do. a few moments later, we got a phone call from a friend of a friend who said he called his friends mom, and she said we could stay there. she was a sweet lady. she set out bedding for us. made us breakfast in the morning. matt and i played in the slip n’ slide with her granddaughter. she was a saint.

i’m sure you can all (and by all, i mean the 2 people who read my blog) see where i’m going with this. the people who should have helped us kept us at a distance. the hospitality of a complete stranger showed Jesus more clearly than the church had. i was thinking about this experience this morning, and felt ashamed. because at the time, i was full of self-righteous indignation. i knew that i would have done better if the roles were reversed. but it’s 5 years later…and i’m not any better. i still go through my days being afraid of the uncomfortable. i still often drive past that person digging through the trash partly because i am in a hurry, but mostly because i am afraid. because to live the things we believe requires us to abandon our plans and fall in line with God’s. to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner and to shelter the homeless. i refuse to believe those were only suggestions. i believe they are commands. why is it that we see so few homeless people walk through the church’s doors? that is a rarity, unless of course the church is set up specifically to serve them, like the Good News Chapel and the amazing people who run it in Regina. those places are amazing, but why isn’t every church that open to serve those who are different? why are we afraid to welcome people into our buildings that aren’t like us? the problem is we must love God and love others enough that we aren’t doing it as a simple obligation. if our love is real, it will naturally flow out of us. i am working on that today. and i hope i can do better starting right now. because i like my life comfortable. but that’s not good enough if we are following God.

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