You would think that after living at We Will Go for nearly a year and volunteering here for four years before we moved here, that I would no longer be surprised by the things we encounter. But almost daily, something surprises me. This time, it was a reminder that there is no one sort of homeless person. The stereotypes just don't take into account all the diverse factors that go into why someone has become homeless and what kind of background they come from.
I was reminded of this when we went prayer walking and stopped to talk and pray with an elderly man who lives in an abandoned house, an abandoned house with a falling down roof. During the course of our visit, he sang us a Brahms' lullaby with a rich beautiful voice, not missing a single word. A Brahms' lullaby.
This is a very smart man who has traveled the world and knows more about culture and history and art than I could even begin to learn. But he lives in a falling down house with no water or electricity because he chooses to.
Almost everyone, if they didn't personally know this man, would pass him on the street and make certain assumptions about him based on his unkempt appearance. And most people, if they were perfectly honest, would not want to talk to him, would probably even cross the street to not have to deal with him.
But that's not what our Heavenly Father does. He sees beyond what people see. He loves this man fiercely and is patiently calling him to a relationship that will transform his life. He knows all about his past, sees his every struggling day, and wants him to have a future better than even his prosperous past life.
God does the same with us. Maybe we're not smelly and messy and wearing ill-fitting used clothes, but we still get judged by people around us. They see a tired mother or an immaculately coiffed businessman or a teenager dressed like a gansta or a young woman garbed all in black and make all sort of assumptions. But they don't really know us. Even our closest friends don't know us like our Heavenly Father knows us.
He knows us even better than we know ourselves. He looks beyond the labels and the accents and the job descriptions, or lack of, and knows the real us. The hidden sins and fears, the secret hopes and dreams, the memories we want to forget and the plans we are willing to risk so much to make happen. He knows the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the lack and the wealth, the handicap and the ability, and He loves us.
He has good plans for us. He knows that there is hope for a better tomorrow. There can be healing and wholeness and purpose.
Even for our neighbor singing Brahms and show tunes in a falling down house.
Even for me.
Even for you.
No one is beyond His reach, no matter the label, no matter the stereotype.