In the late 90's, I was tired and overwhelmed by a career that would be considered the pinnacle for most professionals . . . I struggled to find satisfaction in such accomplishments, including the lucrative nature of it all. So after many years of working to get there, I slowly backed away from it. For two years I traveled to various places for various reasons . . . When the journey was over. the archives of my mind were filled with endless memories and stories. Although most are now just fleeting thoughts, one experience had a life long impact. . .
In 1998, I made many trips to San Francisco. By day I enjoyed walking uptown, visiting coffee shops, spending time in the park talking to people and visiting the big church across from it. The visits were also filled with art, theater, poetry readings and jazz. Each day I became more aware of the people that live on the streets of San Francisco. I wanted to understand more about their lives, feeling that I needed to contrast it with mine. Unfortunately my motive was all about me. . . but what I learnt and experienced changed me.
It's so easy to find street people . . . I know you're thinking, 'why is she calling them street people instead of homeless?'.... Because the ones that made such an impact call themselves street people. The homeless are those that have lost their homes, jobs and are living on the streets hoping for an opportunity to get back into mainstream living again. Their stories of loss and pain were shocking . . . it's such a sad commentary that this exists in America. Although I learnt much from my encounters with the homeless, it's the street people that had a profound affect on me . . .
The street people are quick to say that they have a home! Their home is outside, under the skies, beneath trees, along the shore, in parks, etc. . . That all sounds poetic I thought, but in truth they defended their position with an amazing rationale. Before I go further, there's no denying that some of the people on the street are drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics, and the mentally ill. They seek anything that will altered them . . . But the men and women I talked with shared amazing insight into something that changed me forever. They explained that they don't want the responsibilities of a home, or possessions because all of that would be a distraction and 'barrier between them and God.' They started talking about 'serious faith' . . . and explained that when you have nothing, you value GOD! He is your resource, your provider, your doctor, your healer, your comforter, YOUR ALL. They were clear that they believed that 'things and possessions' get in the way of one's relationship with God! God is their resource and they had such gratitude for all He does! They have nothing but Him and He is enough!
They laughed as they shared their images of today people saying that their cars, games, jewelry and clothes are more important than helping someone . . . A man with a Master's degree talked about the games and ego needs of men, explaining that today's man has everything in the way of his relationship with God. They were outspoken about sitting under the heavens and trusting God would supply their needs. They were totally surrendered and totally giving God the glory for what they said was the perfect home, 'out under the sky'.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11
All this might sound hokie . . . contrived, whatever! But it all makes sense when you think about it . . . Ever notice how receptive people of third world countries are when missionaries share the love of Jesus! He is hope to the hopeless . . . They need Him, trust Him, LOVE HIM!
Years later I would again go out on the street to talk to the homeless (this time in the desert where I live) and again I was corrected by some men that said they weren't homeless, but street people! It all came back from those days in San Francisco. One man in particular ask me about my relationship with God . . . He ask specific questions regarding my commitment and if I truly understood the price Christ paid on the cross. He was quick to share his testimony and praise God for his life. Wow, it was amazing . . . maybe they are right! Maybe, just maybe all of our 'things' are in the way of our relationship with God! Ever think about it?
My husband and I continue to hand out snacks and a little assistance. I'd say 99% of the people always say, "Thank you and may God Bless you!" They believe God has sent us to answer their prayers of need . . . No matter what, they always credit their only resource, God! They appreciate everything and praise God for it!
All of this got me thinking about the clutter in my own life. I decided to get rid of things that seemed to get in my way or were a distraction from God. We cleared out our home, giving away furniture, dishes, clothes, knick-knacks, anything we didn't need and gave it to charity. It was removing the clutter between us and God! I remember specifically giving away a nice hutch that held vases and mementoes . . . Some people have commented on how 'simple' or 'plain' our house has become. Yep, that's perfect . . . because in our simplicity we have more time for the Lord.
Last year we visited some friends whose home had huge hutches and shelves loaded with knick-knacks, souvenirs and mementoes. I thought, 'wow, I'm so glad that I don't have to dust them and keep up with these things!' Possession take time from us. . . We allow our possession to define, clarify and represent us! Our testimony and the way we live should certainly do that . . . Do we spend as much time worshipping and serving the Lord as we do with our 'things'? Our lives should reflect Him and there should be no question about WHO WE SERVE' . . . I love the simplicity of our home now. . . I don't get distracted by those things that use to surround me and I have more time to spend in the Word, prayer and serving Him. Have you ever considered how much time is spend on possessions, buying and maintaining them . . . ?
The street people talk about the beauty of the world and how good God is to them!!! They don't talk about things, events, DISTRACTIONS . . . because such things are not part of their life! They exist by the grace of God and they praise Him for it! I found beauty in their simplicity and their rich appreciation of God! He is not on their 'to do list', He is their way of living!
“Those who love money will never have enough.
How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness!” Ecclesiastes 5:10
“Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have.
For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5