Identity

homeless man 2

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10, NIV).

There’s a man in my town.  I drive past him on a regular basis, too uncomfortable to stop and have an actual conversation.  He’s rough looking, unshaved, with skin worn and darkened from many hours in the sun.  He appears beaten down and tired from the many miles he’s paced on this particular stretch of road.  I imagine he has a story, that he would happily share, if only I would stop and listen, but I have places to go and people to see, who, quite honestly, I’d much rather spend my time with.

The man is easy to spot – perhaps you’ve seen him as well – as he adorns himself with two wooden signs, one in front and one behind, tied together with two strands of rope that wear heavily upon his shoulders.  The signs contain a crudely handwritten message that I can’t quite make out.  He’s a walking billboard, but the only advertisement he’s promoting is his dire predicament.

I really should stop, but I’m in a hurry.  I’m late for work and people are depending on me.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the time for a conversation, but if I do, I hope it will be brief and not too uncomfortable.  I’ll die if someone sees me talking to this guy!

As I drive by, I think for a few more moments about the man.  His entire identity seems to be tied to this sign, tied to his body.  I wish he could see his real self-worth, that he is loved by God, that he is forgiven, that he doesn’t need to be burdened by his past, his sin, or this sign.  Rather, he has been clothed in righteousness by a God who loves him and a Savior who bore a cross for him.  These are the words the man needs to hear.  And maybe I’m the one who needs to tell him.  But today, I am pretty busy.  Maybe I’ll stop tomorrow or the next day.  That’s what I’ll do.

16 thoughts on “Identity

  1. The situation you describe fits many of us, I’m sure. As a woman, I layer on additional reasons not to stop…what if he’s dangerous? What if he follows me? It bothers me that I am not bolder, more fearless. I pray for people like that man, but I can’t help feel I should be putting some of those prayers into concrete action. Thank you for sharing this. If you do talk to him, I hope you’ll share that, too.

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  2. So very insightful, Chuck, and very close to what most do. Is it wrong to do so? Perhaps a question left for each to decide.

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  3. What a convicting message Pastor Chuck. How many times do we see someone holding a sign, begging on the street corner, yet we won’t even make eye contact? How many times do we see a family in town struggling because of a change in circumstance, yet we do nothing? Thank you for the reminder that we are the hands and feet of Christ sir. God’s blessings.

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  4. I am convicted by your devotional this morning. This is a difficult situation for many today as we worry about personal safety, social pressure and the current pandemic. But then, what about the least of these and part of that.

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