Do you feel the weight of the world singin’ sorrow
Or to you is it just not real
Cause you’ve got your own things
Yeah, we all have our things I guess.
Do You Feel by The Rocket Summer
My family and I met Darryl earlier this summer. It was a beautiful June night and we had just watched our Greenville Drive (Class A Boston Red Sox) baseball play a pretty amazing game. We love baseball in our family and any opportunity we get to go watch our local boys play we jump all over.
It was getting pretty late and my wife and I decided it was probably time to make our way to the car so that we could get Clark home at a halfway decent hour. We walked out of the main gates and turned left on South Main Street with the sounds of the sell-out crowd still chasing after us.
I immediately noticed one man to our right on the other side of the street walking the same direction us and another man on our side of the street about 200 feet ahead of us doing the same. I engaged “Dad Mode”. Guys, you know what “Dad Mode” is. It’s that mentality we dads adopt where we think in any given, possibly dangerous situation, “What Would Jason Bourne Do?” WWJBD.
The man to our right crossed the street in front of us and started to noticeably slow down. The other gentleman ahead of us turned down another street so my focus switched to the street-crosser.
We came along side this man and he turned to us and said, “Did you guys have fun at the game?” Clark responded with a “Oh yea!” He can make friends with anyone and I love that about him and it also worries me. The man said, “Alright then,” and laughed and kept walking. We started to pull ahead of him and we were closing in on the car so my anxiety started to let up a little and “Dad Mode” slowly began to disengage.
When we reached the car he approached us again and this time began talking to us and we entered one of those uncomfortable scenarios where I’d rather be any where else than talking to this guy.
He began to relay how he’d been unable to get food at a particular restaurant and that he wasn’t asking for money but just wanted help getting something from the gas station just up the street and that they were about to close soon. I certainly didn’t want to take my family further up the street, late at night, to an unnamed gas station, so I quickly buckled Clark in, pulled out my wallet, and grabbed what little cash I had on me. Normally, I would have offered to go and buy this man some food but it was late and I was ready to get my family out of there. I handed him the few dollars I had and smiled and explained that I wish I could give him (and I genuinely did but I NEVER carry cash on me) and I saw something on his face that made me stop – sincere gratitude.
We asked him his name and he said his name was Darryl and he began to thank us profusely. We told Darryl we would be praying for him, and we have. We shook his hand and wished him well and we got in the car and left. As I reflected on that look on Darryl’s face, I felt the Holy Spirit challenge me to look beyond the obvious outward appearance of a homeless man and instead focus on the humanity and uniqueness that God saw in him.
Most of us have had encounters like this. We come into contact with someone from the homeless community and we tense up because we know they’re probably going to ask for money and we assume (rightfully or wrongfully) that they’re going to use that money for less than noble means but we give something so that hopefully they’ll just leave us alone. If you’ve never felt like that then you are a much better person than I am.
This was different though. Something deeper took place. I didn’t just speak to a homeless man, hand him money, and then leave to escape an uncomfortable situation. I met Darryl.
God created Darryl. God loves Darryl. He loves him so much that He sent Jesus to die on a cross for Darryl. When Christ was suffering on the cross He thought about me and He thought about Darryl.
I drove home convicted. There’s a divine spark in every single person we meet and I’m usually looking for any way out so that I don’t have to be inconvenienced with interacting with someone I’d rather not interact with. God forgive and help me.
In 1 John 3:17-18, John writes “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in Him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
If you’re like me, we talk a big game about how we love everyone. We talk a lot about how we don’t dislike, much less hate anyone so we’re good. We pat ourselves on the back because we like everybody and we just know God is pleased because our hearts are full of love. How disillusioned are we?
The flip side of that, though, is we’re busy. All of us have so many things going on. Our lives, our time, and our thoughts are consumed with activity so the people around us just fade into white noise. We walk down the street and the people and faces just morph into the background. It’s not that we don’t love, it’s just we have our own things to worry about. “I love you…” but from over here if that’s alright. “Hey, I care about you…” but I’m running late to an appointment.
Bryce Avary of The Rocket Summer asks this very pointed and relevant question: Do you feel the weight of the world singing sorrow or to you is it just not real? There are people in our cities, in our communities, and even in our neighborhoods that have the weight of the world on their shoulders. They’re struggling. Some of them wonder if anyone even recognizes that they are there and hurting. God is asking us to forget about ourselves for just a moment and to open our hearts and give.
God is calling us to give our resources, but it’s so much more than that. He is inviting us to give of ourselves. He wants us to give our time. Share our compassion. Dispense joy and peace. Jesus wants us to freely give because we don’t know what that person down the street, across the road, or in the pew behind us is going through.
I’m thankful that I met Darryl. Darryl reminded me that this world doesn’t revolve around me. He reminded me that Jesus frequently hung out with the poor and less fortunate and who am I to think I am any better than anyone. My righteousness is but filthy rags and I’m asking God to help me by molding me every day into His image and His likeness. God, shape my attitudes and characteristics into a reflection of You.
I’m not there yet but I’m getting there.
I’m praying that God moves in Darryl’s life. I’m praying that He continues to place people in Darryl’s path that will point him to Jesus, because Darryl’s life is just as valuable in the eyes of God as yours and mine. My eyes are the ones that needed to be opened to the people and world around me.
Maybe yours do too.