Thursday, March 5, 2009

Flower in the Ditch

I love my Flowers in the Ditches....my homeless peeps...the ones who daily motivate me to step out of my own comfort zone and take a good, hard look at my life and measure my ability to love by putting others before myself. Well this week has been no exception. I have a friend who has had the roughest twenty years of his life. He loves God, but has spent the past 10 out of 11 years locked up behind bars for a couple of situations in his life that he is paying dearly for...he got out of prison roughly six months ago and has been struggling to find a job and restore his life back to God's purposes. His life is hard. The economy is hard. He has slept in a ditch for the past six months with nothing but a sleeping bag and a shower curtain to shield him from the ravages of Mother Nature.

He is my flower in the ditch because although the world has turned their back on him, he has bloomed where he has been planted. He lives in the most chaotic of circumstances, loves God and the uncertainty of his struggle brings God glory, for in that struggle he has turned his face towards heaven. My heart hurts for him, and I have made it a point of not only praying for him, but really reaching out to him and helping him out any way I can.

This past Sunday night he slept outside in one of the coldest nights we have experienced this winter after Ben and I dropped him off near his "condo". We didn't want to have him walk two hours in the cold and our flower insisted that his sleeping bag and two blankets would keep him warm.

About an hour after dropping him off, the magnitude of his situation really hit me in the center of my heart and I grieved. I had taken Mitzie outside for her final potty break of the night when I started to shiver and complain about how cold I was and told her to hurry up and finish doing her doody so we could get back inside. Instantly God convicted my heart as my mind flashed to the ditch where my flower had laid his head for the night . I sobbed for the next hour and a half while Ben sat there and held me. He understands my heart and comprehends just how bad things are out there for a lot of people.

I pray all the time that God will break my heart for what breaks His...now I think I have discovered what that is and I cannot turn my back on the situation. Even though many are homeless, addicts, felons, and desperate for help, my hope rests in God who created and loves them unconditionally...that means he sees past the stench of their lives and only sees a flower blossoming. I firmly believe he uses people to penetrate the darkness of this world and reach out with His love.

I don't feed or hang out with the homeless to make myself feel better, for isn't that why people party and carry on? I do it because it sharpens me as a follower of Christ and I am filled with compassion for people held captive by their situations. It throws me out of my comfort zone, challenges me to put on the mantle of love, traverse the dirtiest of ditches, reach out and love these people without expectation of anything in return. After all, this is somebody's son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister, friend, family member and fellow believer who has no idea how to shake the loose the chains that bind them.

The challenge is simple, next time you encounter a homeless person, even if you don't have any change, a simple smile sometimes makes the difference between a good day for them or a bad one...and you never know, God might change you in the process! We all need to bloom where we are planted....no matter how ugly the soil is around you. Even the biggest pile of garbage and crap is still fertile enough to nourish the tiniest of seeds. Our lives may just be a blip in the scale of eternity, but those little blip are paramount when starting a revolution of love. How are you making a difference? Are you uncomfortably comfortable or comfortably uncomfortable? The challenge is there.....

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