The first thing that hit me was the overwhelming stench of body odor. Every part of me resisted allowing this dirty, wretched, man into my home. Men were filing into my husband’s Thursday night bible study, Band of Brothers. But then here was THIS man. One of the regulars brought him in hopes of reaching the man with the gospel of grace and hope.
Yikes, I hate when that happens. My good deed of opening our home as a refuge to those seeking more of Jesus just was hit with a curve ball.
“Well, Lord, I really meant for it to be to the normal people.
The clean people.
I mean, really, how much is this to ask of me. I already give up my comfort for all these men.”
The ones who don’t make me uncomfortable or smell up my house.
Oops, really feeling not so spiritual right now.
I started to get angry at the guy who brought him. This is my home. Wouldn’t he know better than bring an “unsafe” guy here? This dirty man. This destitute man. Does he have a disease?
What if he was a thief? What then?
He seemed nervous and quickly walked past me to the back of the house where the men met each week. He also seemed to know instinctively what I was feeling about him and averted direct eye contact. I remembered him from seeing him make his rounds from place to place in our little town. Actually, I am pretty sure he walked everywhere.
Don’t you just hate the fact when you feel like you are really spiritual, and are busy patting yourself on the back, God comes on the scene and shows you exactly just how spiritual you really are?
I didn’t like myself right then; at all.
So many stories came to mind that I read in the bible.
The Samaritan man beaten and in a ditch and no one wanted to get “involved” in helping the poor soul, so those that walked by pretended they didn’t see him and kept right on going. And then there was that one guy who helped him. Jesus said he was the one who was the true neighbor. Luke 10:30-37
Then there are the stories of angels visiting us in the forms of people to see how we will react.
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!”
Hebrews 13:2 NLT
Uh oh! Am I in trouble?
It is so easy to do good when everything is clean and pretty and they rave about your hospitality and generosity. Then I feel rewarded.
But what about the unlovely people?
Ugh, I didn’t want to think about it.
I expressed my distaste to my husband when the study was over. He told me that the destitute man, though hard for him to sit still, sat there through the whole study and heard what was said. I felt a little convicted. But I still maintained that this was my home and off limits to open up to people on the street.
Just being honest with you.
A few days later I was home alone. I glanced out the front window and there was this homeless guy coming towards my house.
I thought, “Oh great, now he knows where I live and he has come back and he knows I am here alone.” I felt fear. I figured he had been living in the bushes in the front of my house watching for when I would be alone.
Then I heard a knock at my door.
“Now what do I do, Lord.”
“Answer it”, He said.
“Okay, but if he attacks me, it is in YOUR hands.”
No reply from the Lord.
I opened the door to the homeless guy. He stood way back because he knew I found him offensive. I didn’t indicate anything to that nature, but he just knew. He held in his hand a bottle of a name brand iced tea.
He reached out towards me with the bottle of tea, and with a gentle and grateful look on his face offered it to me. I took it with a puzzled look on my face.
He had brought me a gift of gratitude that I did not turn him away. Who knows where he got the tea, but it was sealed and new.
I am crying right now as I share this story with you because of the compassion that flooded my heart at that moment and still does. This man was a soul that Jesus loves. He came to my house. I let him in with a resentful heart. He knew it, yet he reached out to me with his only understanding of love, which is to give something substantial.
I learned afterwards that he lived behind a dumpster about 5 miles from my house. I knew he had to walk a long way to find his way back here. Yet, he never expected me to do anything else for him. He wasn’t begging or asking to come in. Nor has he returned. He was just grateful.
My husband feeds people on the street all the time. He buys them food and shares the gospel. This was my test. I was made aware of parts of myself I am not proud of. I guess it is normal for us to freak out when we are faced with people we don’t want to see, and it makes us get out of our comfort zones, doesn’t it?
But let’s remember that Jesus said, when we feed the poor, we feed Him.
“For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me. Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you? And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’