I walk around until I see somebody who might need survival items. The first person takes a water and then hands it back to me. “No thanks I’m good.” It seems strange, but whatever. It is not as if I am running for Mr. Popularity. The second person I approach yells at me, “I don’t take stuff from white people.” Fair enough. Neither do I. I am starting to get discouraged. I see a man passed out on the sidewalk with an empty bottle of booze by his head. I check to see if he is ok. He yells at me and is apparently “All good.” I walk to the park and take a seat. I haven’t been rejected this much since high school. Maybe I need to pray more. Maybe God is keeping me out of harm’s way. Maybe I need to read the Word so I have some truth to offer people.
I open up my Bible app to the verse of the day. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9 NIV).” Huh, will I have the peace of God if I talk to people about Jesus? I sit down again across from a church that is having a free lunch. It’s well attended, and there is a medical van out front. Am I supposed to walk between the church and van with water and socks? Maybe I should juggle or wear a cute outfit? I sit and pray, feeling like I did at all of my eighth grade dances. Will anyone dance with me? I get up and try again. I pass out some water and socks. No one wants to talk, a few people smile. The next three people don’t want to talk to me and seem offended that I even approached them. I decide to go through the park one more time. I walk up to a woman who points at her water bottle and “doesn’t need anything.” I see a group of folks I know and feel like I might be cool for a minute. I say hi, feeling less like a human and more like a handcart loaded with Kirkland brand water. Gary is friendly and tells me someone shaved his beard while he was sleeping. He is kidding and I am slow on the uptake. He thanks me and I walk back to the car.
As I am leaving the park, I see a man rocking back in forth quietly under a tree. He was the first person I saw when I entered the park and I did not talk to him. I am not going to avoid him now. What do I have to lose? It has been one of the most awkward outreach experiences of my life. I approach cautiously as he seems disturbed and fragile. I offer water and socks. He smiles, and says, “Yes, that would be great.” We chat about the weather and I point out what a nice shady tree he has found to sit under. “You can’t be crabby sitting under a crab tree.” I laugh hard and tell my new friend he has made my day. He says, “You better shake my hand!” Of course! Put the love of Jesus into practice! Don’t be crabby! “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).”
One thought on “Practicing perseverance”
Your story reminds me of Moses showing up on Pharaoh’s brickyard with a fantastic message: Let My people GO! Should be a no brainer… right? I can sympathize, sorta, with the Egyptians for not getting excited about this, but the Hebrews??? Hmmm… Their God just showed up to get them and they don’t like it??? It will cost them 40 years of more grumbling.
This happens to Jesus too, actually. I personally think Mark 14:50 is probably about the saddest verse in the Bible.
I expect it is because of stories like these that the psych/therapy people refer to a “rescuer triangle” a phenom where the people receiving help in times of need so often feel begrudging and embittered toward those who show up to help.
Great story. So glad you share it. Honest. Painful. Shameful. And caring through it all.
You are paying your dues on the streets!