I arrived home from work yesterday with a sad and heavy heart. I am overwhelmed by the amount of pain and brokenness that exists in the lives of people in our very own communities. I rarely feel the pain of it as strongly as I have over the past couple of days.
A young man was wheeled through the doors of the hospital in what I can only describe as a sorry state. I have been to some poor places but I have never sensed such emotional, spiritual and physical poverty from a person before.
This man was the true "waster" that the educated and wise deem hopeless.
An alcoholic who had fallen a few days ago under the influence. He fell onto a hot electric radiator and had lay there for 2 days without anyone batting an eyelid. His hands burnt to bits, his dishevelment reflecting his longstanding self neglect.
When it came to finding out about him and taking his history I couldn't get any sense out of him. I tried to get in touch with family....none to be found. No friends either. Just him, his empty bottles and his weeping blisters.
Despite the smell, despite the dirt...I loved this man. Not because I am anything special but because Christ is in me...the hope of glory. The one who brings princes from ashes. the one who looks at this man and sees beauty and potential.
I smiled at him and he smiled back. In that moment I saw that image of God, the love that existed inside him, crushed as it was. I saw it. I sensed the presence of God there. I turned to the nurse and said..."I wonder what his story is".
Today I got onto the ward and he had started to come round a bit...demanding a packet of smokes...I gave him a patch to try and appease him.
I watched how the nursing staff were with him. They treated him with respect and showed him love and compassion. I watched how he lapped it up, responding to the deep craving for affection.
I remember someone telling me once that its hard to hate someone when you know there story. I know this guy has a background. His journey has led him to a place where any one of us could be if enough things culminated against us.
I am keen to find his out, to try and understand his plight, to see things from his point of view.
I was chatting to friend last night. He was telling me about a talk he went to recently where the guy speaking spoke of "right" and "wrong".
We all have a sense and deep knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. We know that this guys lifestyle is definitely on the wrong side. But as my friend pointed out, this is not the correct lens with which to view the world or more importantly individuals. We always need to know the story or we become critical and judgemental.
How dare we sit on our well educated, well brought up, affirmed high horses and claim that people are wrong...or other names.
If we use the eyes of Jesus, the lens of love we realise that the heart of the person is beautiful but their sin, like ours is wrong. Jesus is no soft touch. God is just and cannot abide sin. He calls a spade a spade when it comes to sin....its wrong! But Jesus is not as shallow as us. His vision penetrates the surface, even the hardest, dirtiest surfaces to see a potential prince, heir to the throne, son of God.
Idealism is often naive. I'm guilty of it from time to time but when Jesus lives inside us and causes our hearts to thump with desire to see the lost found and the broken mended, we cannot deny the compulsion to love even the wasters of society. Jesus would waste his time and energy on these people and call it time well spent. Eternity has no time anyway.
I'm touched, I'm broken, I'm amazed at the power of God inside my simple sinful heart.
This thing is worth more than millions.
Loving people and knowing their stories, taking a stand on their behalf when they have no voice to defend themselves. Having hope and vision for their lives despite the cloud of hopelessness that surrounds.
I'm not sure what my point is or what I'm learning. I guess there doesn't always have to be a point...just experience shared.
STORIES...lets get to know them and use them to change our critical judgement into loving acceptance.