Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gimme Shelter

I have been nervous before, standing up in my wedding, awaiting the birth of my kids, teaching my first college math class, but this was different this was a knee knocking, sweaty palms, stomach churning, what have I gotten myself into nervous...

I was asked by a friend to help some folks get moved into their home Saturday. I agreed and got a call from my other friend Joe to see if we wanted to go over together and help. Joe and I met each other and headed out to where we thought they were. We drove around the neighborhood looking, we pulled into a vacant lot next to a lady's house and asked her if she knew where they were but she did not. After about 30 minutes of looking we gave up, got back in the truck and went home. I called my friend and told her we could not find the location and we could try again if we had better directions. She called me back about an hour later and said the lady was in tears, she really needed to get moved in that day. She gave better directions and I called Joe to see if we could give it another try. He said sure and we met again to head over to where they were. We pulled into another vacant lot and began looking around. We finally found them. There were three of them, Harvey, David and Regina; living in a wooded lot, out in the open on an old mattress in a section of town that is known for drugs, gangs and violence. The night before the temperature was down in the 30's and they said they tried to stay warm by snuggling up with each other. Joe and I were there to help them move into (set up) a tent that had been given to them to try and help them stay a little warmer. The three of them were drunk or high or maybe both, stumbling around trying to help but really getting in the way. Joe and I finally got the tent set up and moved the dirty old mattress inside where they would spend the next, who knows how many, nights. You would have though that we just moved them into a three bedroom home. They were so excited that Regina started crying, I am not sure if it was the tent or the effects of the foreign substances in her body; and David stared talking about landscaping on a lot that he probably was not supposed to be on in the first place! Joe and I left some basic toiletries, some blankets and a little food that Joe's wife cooked.  All went well until we were getting ready to leave, that's when the cops showed up! Three cop cars pulled up and officers began to make their way into the woods where we were. They slowly approached us with their hands on their weapons and I cannot say I blame them based on the motley looking crew standing before them! Now I have been nervous before, standing up in my wedding, awaiting the birth of my kids, teaching my first college math class, but this was different this was a knee knocking, sweaty palms, stomach churning, what have I gotten myself into nervous! Here we are, two guys standing in the woods on the wrong side of town with three homeless people high as a kite with who knows what in their pockets, their bags, or their shopping carts. I looked at Joe, Joe looked and me and we both had that "oh no, what do we do now" look on our faces. The officers assessed the situation and a few minutes later they explained that they were looking for a known drug dealer, a white male about 6' 2" and 310 lbs that a concerned citizen said was seen in this area. Well I am 5' 9" and weigh 185lbs and Joe is 6' and weighs about 160lbs. So after a brief conversation they left and told us to have a good day. Whew, a few minutes earlier I had visions of being taken to jail in the back of a black and white trying to imagine how I would explain this to my wife! As Joe and I were leaving, I called my friend who originally asked if we could help these individuals and told her "mission accomplished". We got the tent set up and they would be warmer tonight than they were last night. She said she had been praying for us as we were setting up the tent and helping her friends. She said she prayed that the Lord would give us a double blessing because of our actions. I told her thanks but as we were driving back home I thought about how blessed I already am. I was driving back to my car - they did not have a car, only a shopping cart, to go to my house that is warm, full of food, and in a good neighborhood - theirs was not. I would be able to take a hot shower that night and climb into a warm bed - they would only be able to climb into a tent and sleep on an old, worn out box spring. I am a blessed (probably double blessed) man. 

Getting involved in this situation stretched me. I am not a macho, Rambo, dirt-under-my-fingernails kind of guy (see my blog entry The Manly Man). But I remember watching Francis Chan on the Balance Beam and I said I don't want to live the safe life anymore. At the time I did not know what this would look like but it is being revealed to me. The Lord is presenting me with opportunities to step out and trust him. I doubt I will always have to step into the woods to help the homeless but I might get the opportunity again. Maybe I will never have to leave the country. After seeing what I did Saturday I realize there are plenty of opportunities to step out and get uncomfortable right here in my own city.
Joshua 3:12 - 17  - 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” 14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.
Joshua and the priest had to step in the river before God moved. They could not step up to it and wait for God to pile it up, they had to trust him in a somewhat frightening situation. The river was at flood stage and was probably flowing quickly. Who knows, there may have been debris floating by, maybe even a dead carcass or two raising the thought of being swept away by the current. Never-the-less they trusted God and stepped in. I believe God is waiting on each one of us to step out of our comfort zone and trust him. For some it may be helping the homeless in a rough side of town, for others it may be leaving a dead church that you have become comfortable at and get plugged into somewhere that might make you a little uncomfortable. You might be called to start a Bible study and you have never hosted a group or taught. Whatever God has put in your heart or in your path you need to step up, step out and step in.


  1. Hello Humanity and what you experienced here is "the God in you". Here is a little known book that was written by, belief it or not the one who does the Dilbert comic strip, Scot Adams. It is a short essay that he wrote whimsically defining the Big Bang call GOD'S DEBRIS. If a God, a truly omnipotent, omnipresent that could do anything on a lark blew himself up just to put the pieces back together again. Ha! We are his pieces! You can find it on line in it's entirety. No I don't think God blew himself up but we are his pieces and a resource based economy as describe by TZM and TVP will allow us to divinely communicate with each other in ways previously unknown once man is free of the shackles of cost to live on this planet. This planet is not for sale and what you experience is what our presently lame brained monetary system caused.
    We must assume life is an entitlement for all people, culling no one.

    Please read the short book; it took me about 2 hours. I don't agree with all it offered but it was a revelation to me considering we are one people on one planet protected by halos (spheres). If there is a heaven, we have to get it right here first and it will take each and every one of us to do that. Yes it is difficult to imagine a different reality not based on fear, guilt, worry and stress. What you had was a magnificent 'HEART ATTACK' my friend. Don't feel guilty because you had that home, just understand it's the system and not you. You were observing those who in all probability were the victims of technological unemployment and to survive yes, it's no telling what drugs they were taking to exist in this reality that forces people to compete with each other in order to survive. It was understandable thousands of years ago when scarcity was a problem. It's not that way now or at least not yet. Man was never meant to be a slave to any man.

    Have good day my friend and that pang of conscience will go away. You experienced that for a reason and are the better for it.


  2. Agree with the monetary system being the problem, because im warm and fine at home. That way i dont have to see or worry about this problem, because it does not exist. (in my mind)

    What are we doing to help? I this all we can do, how can we wok together to cure this problem. You can throw all the money you want at the problem, but it will not help.

    We dont build hoses to house people, and we dont grow food to feed people.

    Glenn Poton