It helps to remember that Jesus was a homeless man.
The late Rich Mullins described Jesus well when he sang, “And the world can’t stand what it can’t own, and it can’t own You ’cause You did not have a home.”
I saw this play out once when on a cross-cultural mission trip. The group of students I was walking with came upon an older homeless woman whose face and body were as exhausted as the clothes she was wearing. She had a notable speech impediment that made it difficult for us to understand her, but we eventually learned her name was Eleanor.
At first, the students felt like it was their responsibility to ask her questions. She smiled and complied, as if we were all on some late-night talk show that took place in an alley. Eleanor shared how she’d gotten sick and lost her home years earlier, forcing her to live on the streets. She had since then developed a way to make (what she considered to be) an “honest living” by performing small tasks for compassionate restaurant owners who would “pay” her through food.
This explained the various half-filled beverage cups around her.
Eleanor had every reason by anyone’s standards to throw in the towel. She was homeless, penniless, her health was slowly degrading, and she was alone.
Or was she?
Throughout Eleanor’s discourse on her life, she repeated a phrase that caught my attention. “I just know that everyday my God shall supply all my needs,” she offered.
Heard that one before? I had…or something similar, about a hundred times that day. I’d learned that if a homeless person thought you might be a Christian, they would play up the “God” angle to gain additional empathy and support.
Still, there was something different about Eleanor. Many people know how to talk about God, but few live dependently on the Lord. The more she shared, the more I realized that she somehow knew God personally.
Perhaps that’s why she exploded when the students shared that they were Christians. It was the first time she stood up and got off the ledge she was sitting on, all while shouting out, “Oh, great! Let’s sing!” In the most off-key voice imaginable, she began belting out a classic hymn at a volume level that probably woke up six city blocks.
It was beautiful.
Eleanor was an out-of-tune instrument who was completely in tune with the Master. The woman who had no home, actually had a Home.
I’m not sure what you take away from that, but I’d been feeling rather stressed that night. You likely know that kind of stress while doing ministry. Sometimes we feel the need to fix our lives or the lives of people around us, which is quite the value “let’s make a difference while we’re young” motto of the emerging generation.
The issue isn’t IF we’ll face trouble but HOW we’ll face it. How is it that someone like Eleanor can say, “My God shall supply all my needs” when she has every right to be stressed about where her next meal is coming?
It kind of puts things into their proper perspective.
By the world’s standards, a homeless woman like Eleanor gets our pity for how hard her life is and the hail storms she faces. By God’s standards, a woman who has a Home like Eleanor gets our envy for how she lives in the peace of His promises and the shelter they provide in any storm.
“I just know that everyday my God shall supply all my needs,” she offered.
Try saying that out loud. Go ahead. Do it right now.
As you do, pray for Eleanor… and be thankful that someone like Eleanor just might be praying for you right now.
Thank you for loving students!
Tony / @tonymyles