Others. All of them.

I hugged a homeless man the other day.  This isn't breaking news.  People do this all the time.  I'm just not usually one of them.  He and his sign caught my eye in the parking lot, and I did a full-on U-turn to get back to him.  I don't know what came over me - I'm guessing he really tugged at my heart that day because I had just finished reading the weather, and we were in the middle of a record-breaking cold snap here in Georgia.  He was an older gentleman with a sign that read "Family in Need" scrawled on a tiny piece of cardboard. 

I will be the first to admit that if they handed out scores for "social awkwardness" I'd score an A+ every time.  I fumbled over my words as I spoke with this man and offered him whatever I could find in my car at the time.  I said, "I'm so sorry.  It's so cold."  Then I said something which, in retrospect seems really stupid.  "Are you okay?"  He kept looking down at the ground and said, "I'll be okay."  I said to him, "I'm going to give you a hug."  And I hugged him and his jacket that was far too thin for the windy, cold conditions and said, "What else do you need?" 

He looked up for the first time and said, "That was it."

And right there, next to that homeless man, I cried.  We parted ways and his salutation was, "God bless you."  For all the things he lacked, what this man said he needed was a hug.  That was the simplest gift I have given in a very long time.

I wasn't going to tell this story.  I didn't even tell Sam that it happened.  I can't get this man off my mind.  And not just him, but all of the people who are in need and hurting.  Not just because it's Christmastime or cold, but because this world.  It's so broken. 

Right now without even straining I can think of people I know personally who have very recently lost a parent, who continue to endure unemployment, who have received devastating health news, who find themselves alone this holiday season because their cowardly husband opted to abandon his wife and children.

Can I tell you the one thing these people have in common that make their stories not-so-grim? 

They have Jesus. 

Every one of the people I cited above has every right to be hopeless and depressed by the world's standards.  But, each of them exemplifies a light in the dark that simply isn't possible without Him.  We aren't promised a life free from sorrow or pain or suffering, in fact, quite the opposite.  We are promised trials.  The good news is that whatever we are facing, no matter how painful, Jesus has been there first.  We aren't in this alone.  And that sheds a whole new light on dark times.

As a child of God, I endure this broken world and it rocks me to the core to see the hurt and the pain brought on by sin.  It's hard.  I cannot even imagine what it must look like without viewing it through the lens of the hope of Jesus.  But this world is not my home.  I have a hope that springs eternal. 

In the meantime, I plan to show a little of that hope to the people I encounter.  This Advent season, the herd of Sheps is taking it to the community - with a whole lot of random (and/or secret) acts of kindness.  We started a little early, in fact, because we were so excited.  We have been given much, and because we are entrusted with much, more is required of us.  We understand and we feel compelled to "pay it forward" of sorts.  But, it's not us.  It's all Jesus. 

We are stealing ideas from the following amazing resources:

Light 'Em Up! ~ from courtneydefeo.com
Random Acts of Christmas Kindness ~ from Coffee Cups and Crayons blog
100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference ~ from We Are THAT Family

I can already tell this is making a difference in our lives.

Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be,
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.
~from Others, by Charles D. Meigs

Wishing you and yours the very best this Christmas season. 


Sharon said...

Jennie, just bless your heart. I am also greatly moved by the sadness of this world. There are so many people with broken hearts, and such desperation in their lives - it breaks me to think of them all. Jesus is the only thing that brings hope, and I so want to shine a light for Him in the life of others.

You hugged a homeless man. I cried at this whole scene. It hit me particularly because of something that just happened the other night. My oldest son has season tickets to a professional hockey team. Sometimes when I'm in town I get to go with him to a game. The other night, I was with him. As we walked to the stadium, he told me about a homeless guy that he's befriended over the last two seasons - Bob. My son also warned me that he might want to shake my hand. I'm a germaphobe, so this sounded scary, but I realized that there was something bigger going on here. Well, yes, he did shake my hand, thanked me and my son for the money we gave him, and then he proceeded to tell me what a wonderful man my son was. I about burst. As Bob told us about being a little depressed at the holidays, my son told him, "But God's still with you, Bob. Remember what we talked about last time."

Well, when we left, my son told me how he and Bob got into a whole discussion about God and Jesus last time they talked, and evidently Bob knows the whole Gospel message! And if he doesn't believe yet, I'm sure my son is bringing something of the truth of the Good News.

I was really greatly moved by this whole event. On so many levels. And what my son really and truly taught me was the great meaning of stopping and caring. We just don't know what souls we might help save. Sometimes, perhaps, for eternity.

Can't wait to hear all about the encounters that I just know God will bring to you!


Jenn said...

I'm so glad you told this story. What a wonderful way to bring and share Jesus. Just a simple hug. And a lot of love.

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