I work in a large city, and if you’ve ever been to a large city you know that there are many less fortunate people than us in those cities. I’m not a man who carries much cash, usually none at all. I rely on my debit card for all my purchases. If I need cash for some reason, I just hit an ATM located in my building. I have to park several blocks from the building I work in, and for years I’ve passed by all those less fortunate on my way to my truck after work. I gave to one specific individual years ago, but one day I read in the local news where he had been arrested on drug charges, so I developed a hard heart and started passing these people without even blinking.
Several weeks ago I passed by a guy named Mark. I’ve seen Mark for a while and noticed he was for the most part quiet. He would interact with those that might toss him a nickel, but those that didn’t wouldn’t receive any harassment. I’m not sure why, but one day I stopped and gave him a dollar. This started a relationship that I’ve come to enjoy. Mark is like many homeless men, a veteran of our armed forces. He’s been living on the streets for years, and he’s made several friends in both the homeless and non-homeless communities.
I usually only see Mark a few days per week, and when I see him he always asks the same question; ”Got any food today?” He never asks for money, only food. Some days I forget to get him something to eat and I’ll give him a few bucks. But usually I try to remember to put something edible in my backpack in case I run into him.
I remember one day I was preparing to leave the office and noticed a half-full jar of peanut butter in my overhead cabinet. I immediately thought of Mark. On the way to my truck I ran into him, and asked if he’d like some peanut butter. He said yes, and proceeded to tell me a story about how earlier in the day he had received a gift card to a local convenience store. Unselfishly he gave that gift card away to one of his homeless friends that was more hungry than he was. He said “They were more hungry than I was at the time. Just an hour before someone gave me a sandwich, so I didn’t need it.”
Mark doesn’t know that I’m a Christian, I mean, I’ve never told him directly. We’ve really never had that type of in-depth conversation. But on the day I gave him the left over peanut butter, after he told me about giving away the gift card, he said “Everything I get is a gift from Jesus Christ, I truly believe that.” I’ve thought about that for a while now, and I truly believe he’s being sincere. I don’t know, nor can I explain why I started giving food to Mark. I’m starting to believe God is using me to give back to Mark for his unselfish acts of sharing what he receives with his friends in his community.
I’ve been thinking about how awful it would be to go from my life of comfort to living on the streets, relying on the good nature of others to meet my basic needs. As I thought about this, I started to relate that feeling to what it must be like without Christ in your life. Walking along without hope, without family, without food. At one point I was similar to Mark in the sense that I didn’t have a spiritual home. I had no hope, and I was thirsty. Luckily Jesus didn’t pass me by on the side of the road. He gave me food, He gave me drink, and most importantly He paid the price for my sins, something I couldn’t possibly do on my own.
John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”