Monday, February 20, 2006

I must have a sign on my forehead

For the majority of my life I've known I was different, and everyone else has known it, too. It's not what you might think, though. I hope I don't sound arrogant by saying this, but it's as if people have looked at me as a pastor all my life. Even when I was a kid people would come to me if they had issues or were wrestling with big questions about God, as if I had any clue. It was like I had a sign on my forehead that said "The pastor is in" or something like that.

Anyway, as it so often does, life threw me a weird curveball last week. Jessica (my fiancee) and I were headed to a bar in downtown Nashville where we play trivia with a group of friends every week. (Yes, pastors go to bars sometimes. Deal with it.) As so often happens, a homeless man approached us as we were walking from our car across the street, asking for money. If we have cash we usually give something to them, figuring it's between them and God what they do with it. The only thing God will hold us accountable for is whether we helped someone in need.

It became clear to us very quickly that this man was mentally ill, as an overwhelming majority of homeless people are, and that he had not had his medication in a while. We learned that his name was Anthony, and he started telling us about himself, showing us his ID, pictures of relatives, and the pocket New Testament he always carries with himself.

Then all of a sudden Anthony asks us to pray for him right then, and he grabbed both our hands and knelt in the parking lot. We followed suit, and I could feel the weird looks of bar patrons walking to their cars seeing a reasonably well dressed man and woman on their knees in the parking lot praying with a homeless black man. I never mentioned what I do or anything, he said he just seemed to sense it.

I'm not really sure what this means. On the one hand I hate that I felt a little embarrassed kneeling on the ground with Anthony. Was I embarrassed to be with a homeless man, or the fact that I was quite obviously praying in public? I'm not sure. I guess it's just proof that, while I preach to people every Sunday about not being ashamed of the gospel, I'm still human just like everyone else.

On the other hand I feel grateful to have opportunities like this. I don't go seeking them out. I don't even consciously think all the time about how I can witness publicly. But as big as my ego can get, its probably better that things like this just fall in my lap, otherwise I would probably get way too proud of myself for doing something God gave me the ability to do.

While most of the time we have to look for God in the common stuff of everyday life, every now and then something unusual comes along just to keep us on our toes. I don't have meaningful encounters with homeless people every day, so experiences like this one serve to remind me that someone in need is always around the corner. I don't know if Anthony and I will ever cross paths again, but for one moment we were able to be a blessing to one another in the simplest of ways.

I guess I'll always have a sign on my forehead, whether I like it or not. And as a Christian, so do you. Let's wear these signs proudly, because you never know who may need a helping hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Should we go look, Uchitel?
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