My daughter (13) and I were in a new town and decided to walk eight city blocks to get a slice of “the best pizza in town”. It wasn’t too long until we’d given most of the small amount of cash we carried to the men and women who call the streets of Houston home.
PS: I know everyone has different ideas about whether giving money to those surviving on the margins is helpful or good, but until God instructs me differently, I will continue to give money, as often I have it, with a clear and unhindered conscience.
“You don’t always have to give away money, my love, but you do have to give your honesty, attention, and respect,” I said as we waited for a green light on the crosswalk. “Just like you’d do for anyone else.”
“I know mom,” she said as she continued to pleasantly greet each person that was huddled; hungry; harrowed, or haunted in the shadows and on the benches.
“These are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, and we’ll enjoy heaven with many of them. In fact, God says that the people with the very least – people just like these – will be the first to dance through his doors and sit down at his table. And we will all marvel at the sight! Many of these will be guests of honor at God’s wedding feast, and we will be so joyful; so very proud of them, that they trusted in God’s goodness and care even while their earthly life was so hard.”
Almost as soon as I’d uttered those words, we met Gerry. Weathered and wise, Gerry accepted our hello and smiled warmly as we all shook hands. He asked for nothing. But after introductions and small talk, Gerry looked at me with such compassion and curiosity and asked if he could bless me. I felt like I was on holy ground.
Gerry spoke intimately and personally of God’s love for his children. Did I know that God loves me more than I could ever imagine? He does Ms. Kim! He loves all his children so much that he gave up his most precious thing. He gave up his only son. Can you imagine that kind of love? I know you love your daughter. I can tell. I can tell how much you love her, Ms. Kim. Now imagine that God gave up his only child that he loved so much. That’s how much he loves his earthly children.
Gerry continued softly. Did I know that God’s got me, and he’s got all things, in the palm of his hand? He does! Why are you crying, Ms. Kim? Those are tears of joy, I know. I know. I know. I know. I don’t like to see you cry, Ms. Kim, but I know those are tears of joy, ’cause you know that God’s got you in his hands.
Then Gerry reminded me to pray more. “Pray all the time! Get up and pray. Then pray all day. Pray and pray and pray. This is your blessing.”
“Are you OK mom?” Colvin asked after I’d hugged Gerry twice and we’d walked away. But before I could answer, we saw an old woman struggling to wrap herself in a blanket at the bus stop. We gave her our last small bill but she recoiled from any eye-contact or physical touch. “I’m sorry,” she said, widening the gap between us, “I have bugs.”
I wish I’d taken a picture of Gerry for you, but I know that one day you’ll meet him in heaven. He’ll be the one wrapped up tight in the arms of Jesus, the very distinguished and honored guest of the God he trusted so much.
“Welcome my good and faithful servant and enter our joy,” the host of the feast will say. “I’ve saved you a special seat near me at my table. Your faith in my goodness and care has been made sight. I do love you so!”
Peace to you all, because you have a brother on the streets of Houston who is making his little corner of God’s garden feel more like heaven to all who are fortunate enough to enter. You have a brother in Christ who is making peace.
May Gerry’s blessing on me also be on you and yours today: “Get up and pray. Pray all day. Pray and pray and pray some more. This is your blessing.”
And may your prayers water the soil where God has planted you, so that when others are fortunate to enter your corner of God’s garden, they might also feel like they are on holy ground.