Following the Homeless Man
For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hands to your brother, to your needy, and to your poor in your land. (Deuteronomy 15:11 AMP)
The cobble stone street glistened in the middle of Old Town Fort Collins as I watched him walk, yet again, from one end of town to the other. He had been there many times before but today was the first time I stopped to watch him. Tall, slender, clean and shaven, he could have been a professor from the local university, but he wasn’t; he was a homeless man. It was late afternoon and an early fall day as I wondered about where this man was going. Then God whispered, “Follow him.”
My heart thumped loudly in my throat as I hesitatingly agreed to this adventure. “Okay Lord, but please keep me safe.” I played it cool and casually window shopped from store to store as I watched this cheerful man visit his favorite people along the street. However, his pace was brisk and it was obvious to me he had an important destination in mind. He crossed the street a few times and I might have even heard him whistle. He turned down another street across from the old railroad station and stopped outside a three story building. I froze in my tracks, wanting to turn tail and run as I saw other homeless people gathering in front of the building. Some were laughing and visiting, others looked sad and aloof.
God interrupted my thoughts, “Don’t lose him. Follow him inside.” Now I was feeling super vulnerable. I was still dressed in my nice work clothes and I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I persisted and found the man standing inside. I reached for him and gently tapped his shoulder.
I couldn’t speak without tears escaping down my face. Oh God, what have you done to me? My heart…, my heart…. My heart ached at what I saw– a kind of joyful-hurting ache.
“Ask for help daughter. You are safe,” encouraged the Lord.
So I asked the homeless man through tears who I could speak to about the shelter. He smiled a genuine smile and responded to my tears by saying, “Oh, now, its okay. Here’s the lady you need to talk to,” and he handed me off to this kind but stern thirty something woman. When I told her I was there because I needed to know how the homeless people lived, I had to repeat myself because I was so choked up and my heart was pounding so loud I was sure she couldn’t hear me!
She smiled warmly and gave me back to the homeless man who proceeded to give me a tour. He showed me the T.V. room where a pile of people sat watching Jeopardy; he took me to “the book shelf” where people could borrow books; he pointed out the shower area and taught me about their token system, and then he explained how the building had been an old hotel and how they had converted it into a shelter. Everyone had a bin where they could store things and they could purchase showers and toiletries with the special tokens. He also explained how different businesses and non-profits provided dinner throughout the week. My heart felt soggy as I stood in the presence of this man.
I never saw him again after that. I looked for him and found more homeless people instead….
Then I understood just Who I had been following.
Amos 8 from The Message
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You Who Give Little and Take Much
1 My Master God showed me this vision: A bowl of fresh fruit. 2He said, “What do you see, Amos?” I said, “A bowl of fresh, ripe fruit.” God said, “Right. So, I’m calling it quits with my people Israel. I’m no longer acting as if everything is just fine.
3“The royal singers will wail when it happens.”
My Master God said so.
“Corpses will be strewn here, there, and everywhere.
4-6Listen to this, you who walk all over the weak,
you who treat poor people as less than nothing,
Who say, “When’s my next paycheck coming
so I can go out and live it up?
How long till the weekend
when I can go out and have a good time?”
Who give little and take much,
and never do an honest day’s work.
You exploit the poor, using them—
and then, when they’re used up, you discard them.
7-8God swears against the arrogance of Jacob:
“I’m keeping track of their every last sin.”
God’s oath will shake earth’s foundations,
dissolve the whole world into tears.
God’s oath will sweep in like a river that rises,
flooding houses and lands,
And then recedes,
leaving behind a sea of mud.
9-10“On Judgment Day, watch out!”
These are the words of God, my Master.
“I’ll turn off the sun at noon.
In the middle of the day the earth will go black.
I’ll turn your parties into funerals
and make every song you sing a dirge.
Everyone will walk around in rags,
with sunken eyes and bald heads.
Think of the worst that could happen
—your only son, say, murdered.
That’s a hint of Judgment Day
—that and much more.
11-12“Oh yes, Judgment Day is coming!”
These are the words of my Master God.
“I’ll send a famine through the whole country.
It won’t be food or water that’s lacking, but my Word.
People will drift from one end of the country to the other,
roam to the north, wander to the east.
They’ll go anywhere, listen to anyone,
hoping to hear God’s Word—but they won’t hear it.
13-14“On Judgment Day,
lovely young girls will faint of Word-thirst,
robust young men will faint of God-thirst,
Along with those who take oaths at the Samaria Sin-and-Sex Center,
saying, ‘As the lord god of Dan is my witness!’
and ‘The lady goddess of Beer-sheba bless you!’
Their lives will fall to pieces.
They’ll never put it together again.”