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  • Writer's pictureDub

Homeless


Have you ever been homeless? Pam and I are currently out of our home while it undergoes renovation. We're expanding the footprint and making everything more accessible so we can age in place. We're out for an unspecified 'while', which we've come to understand is a term builders use to cover all the bases. Granted, we are not homeless in the normal sense of the word; but we are without a home, nonetheless. It's a surprisingly unsettling feeling.


If I sound whiny let me say; yes, I am well aware of my privilege and the relative ridiculous nature of my complaint. We have great friends and family that have opened their homes to us during our sojourn. We're trying not to wear out our welcome. We have time, money, reliable transportation, and substantial resources that allow us the freedom to make choices and move about pretty much at will. God is more than providing for our needs; none greater than funding the renovation of our house. When the work is completed, we will be very comfortable. Our house will be suitable for our needs for the rest of our lives. Yet with all these blessings and benefits, right now we still feel very much untethered and adrift.


'Discombobulated' is an outdated word, but so appropriate to this situation. Maybe some of you have been here.

We understand that our situation is temporary, although at this point it seems endless. When people ask when we'll be back in our home again, we just freeze like deer in the headlights, hoping we won't get hit by a truck. In our more rational moments, we know the end is coming and we'll eventually be settled in our home once again. Unfortunately, that's not the case for an increasing number of homeless people around the world.


Homeless people under a bridge
Homeless Under A Bridge

There is a major interstate highway two blocks from our house. Under the overpass and up and down the confusing tangle of roads and businesses that surround it are some truly homeless persons. Some are new to the area. Some have been there longer. Some want to be left alone. Others are out on the street every day trying to survive. One guy has two dogs with him on the side of the road or in the median. Some sleep under the overpass. One died when he fell from the bridge. I call 911 for medical assistance for others that are so out of it they sometimes wander into traffic or pass out, frozen in odd positions.


I sometimes get to interact directly. I've given money, food, and clothing when I felt a nudge from God. I've heard their stories, prayed with and for people, and tried to help access resources when that was their desire. At other times, I simply drive by someone standing or walking dangerously close to the flow of traffic holding a ragged sign that describes a desperate situation or request: homeless mom, homeless veteran, disabled, need money, hungry, need a job, need food for me and my kids.


I've never seen a sign that says, "I need dignity" or "I need to be seen, valued, loved, and cared for as a human being" but I know those needs are there. I've made it a practice to look in each person's eyes whenever possible, return their sometimes-haunting glare, and at least nod, smile, or throw up a hand of greeting. It is a weak attempt to let that person know that they are seen and recognized. I am painfully aware that I can't meet their needs. However, I know the God that can, and I ask Him to help, save, heal, and bless.



That's just what I see in front of me. What about the refugees, I wonder? According to the UN Refugee Agency that tracks these things, right now (March 2024) there are 108.4 million people that are displaced from their homes around the world. The reasons are varied and many. None of them relate to my current situation, but Pam and I have traveled around the world working with others to help people that have fled oppressive dictators, evil regimes, gangs, violent or uncaring governments, natural disasters, escapees and victims of war or terrorism, and those who are persecuted simply for their faith.


Homelessness is rampant and terrible. It affects millions. It affects families and individuals, men, women, boys, girls, babies. I've seen homelessness writ large and small, through both awful and mundane stories, disrupted lives, tragic situations, broken hearts, and troubled minds. The effects of homelessness on people can be merely upsetting or devastating.


For Pam and me right now, not having our home is slightly annoying and upsetting. But our experience is, at least, a reminder of the plight of others. Being out of our home for an uncertain period of time without a routine life causes me to think about what it means to be truly homeless. Perhaps that in itself is worth the voluntary, temporary discomfort. How can anyone understand and have empathy unless they've been there in some form or fashion?


Fortunately, there is one that not only understands, but who actually has the power and the will to save and to help. "A scribe then approached and said, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ Matthew 8:19-20


Jesus in the wilderness
Christ In The Wilderness - Briton Riviere

I'm pretty sure the nameless scribe went away and was never heard from again. Jesus once had the best home. He lived in Heaven with His Father. He loved His Father and His creation so much that He willingly left home and came to those, like us, that had no eternal home. Here on Earth, He left the home of his youth, his mother, brothers, and sisters and went out to bring the Kingdom of God to those who need to know of His great love and salvation.


Was Jesus homeless? Yes. Temporarily. When He finished His work, after dying and coming back to life, He returned to Heaven. I know. That's tough to believe if you've never met Him. But the prophecies of the Bible assure us that He will return again at the end of this age. Would you believe then? It's important because His home will be open to all who believe, follow, and trust Him. This is His promise.


"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." Matthew 19:29

I've met Him. I believe. And I'm waiting for His return. In the meantime, I'm going to do my best to follow Jesus whenever I encounter a homeless individual or group and I feel that nudge to do something kind, something loving, something that I hope communicates the message of Jesus, "you are seen, valued, loved, and cared for as a human being."


This world is not my home. Right now, I am homeless. But I am quite confident that my situation is only temporary. Soon, I will be home. You're more than welcome to join me.



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